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Can Dogs See Their Own Farts?
While dogs have some incredible talents, seeing their own flatulence is not one of them.
Why is this even a topic for discussion? Well, this stinky subject is the result of a widely publicized study at the Rochester Institute of Technology, which allegedly featured researchers measuring dogs' brain activity in response to canine and human farts trapped in jars.
While the study was reported by a few online sites and shared widely across social media, it was soon shown to be a hoax. So if anyone tells you that dogs can see their own farts, you can tell them to stop inhaling so much of their furry friend's fluffs.
Fake news aside, there are plenty of far more interesting (and occasionally gross) things to learn about dog farts and what dogs can and can't actually see. Read on to find out what they are.
Signs Your Dog Has Farted
If there was any truth to the hoax dog fart study, it'd be pretty easy to tell when your pooch had let fluffy off the leash. After emitting a quick toot from their back end, your dog could simply sit back and watch as their gas spread around the room, particles floating this way and that on the breeze, perhaps featuring a dazzling kaleidoscope of colors as the different chemical compounds were diffused into the environment.
In reality, however, this isn't something dog owners can rely on as an early warning system for impending canine smells. If your pooch is from the "silent but violent" school of thinking, often there's no warning at all of the odor headed your way. One minute you're just sitting there eating dinner in front of TV, the next your eyes are watering and you're gagging for air after being hit by a wave of pungent gas.
Then there are those dogs who like to turn farting into performance art. For these pooches, each episode of wind is something to be shared — it's usually loud and often accompanied by an elaborate swish of the tail or a little dance.
Finally, there are those dogs who always seem surprised by their own flatulence. These are the pooches that fart themselves awake, or that jump up in shock at the sound of the loud explosions that always seem to take place just behind them.
Whichever approach your dog takes, you usually don't have to be a rocket scientist to recognize when they've released a little gas.
The History Behind People Thinking Dogs Could See Their Own Farts
Ever heard of the popular science blog, IFLScience.com? Designed to explore the funny side of science, it features quotes, jokes, memes and more, and there's a good chance you've seen several of its articles pop up on your social media feed.
What you may not have heard of is the now-defunct fake news site, iflscience.org, which used the remarkably similar URL to deliberately mislead the public. It was this latter site that ran a feature on researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology measuring doggy brain responses to farts captured in jars.
Despite the fact that the study sounds quite ridiculous, it was still featured on several popular blogs and shared by plenty of social media users. Of course, we now know that the "study" in question never took place and was nothing more than a hoax — but a slightly amusing one nonetheless.
The Science of Dog Farts
Scientists have actually studied dog farts in great detail. If you're searching for a reputable study on canine flatulence, look no further than the 2001 report by researchers at the Waltham Center for Pet Nutrition in the UK.
The researchers used a specially designed doggy "fart suit" that featured a sulfur gas detecting pump near the dog’s rear end along with disposable paper underpants. This suit measured hydrogen sulfide, while an "Odor Judge" was also called upon to rate each episode of flatulence on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 representing a noise only and no odor, and 5 used to classify an unbearable odor).
The readings from the suit were then correlated with the Odor Judge's ratings to reveal that the most distasteful farts contained a significantly greater amount of hydrogen sulfide than those that were less offensive.
How Dogs React to Farts
Dogs have a remarkable sense of smell and a pretty impressive sense of hearing. However, their eyesight is something of a mixed bag — their vision is better than ours in some respects, but there are other areas where we can outperform our canine counterparts.
Dogs are better than us at motion detection, simply due to the fact that their eyes have more rods to detect light and dark. In particular, dogs are very effective at sensing motion at a distance, which would be an extremely useful skill when hunting.
Our canine companions also have better night vision than us, so they feel right at home in low-light situations like dusk and dawn, and have a larger field of vision than us — 250 degrees vs our 190 degrees — because their eyes are located on the side of the head.
But don't start feeling inadequate about how your eyesight stacks up against your pooch's, as we have better visual acuity than our furry friends. If you look at the letters on an eye chart and you can read the same letters that a person with average vision can read from 20 feet away, you have 20/20 vision. However, scientists have discovered that dogs
have a visual acuity of 20/75, which means that the pattern you can make out from 75 feet away, your dog can only see from just 20 feet away.
We also see color better than our dogs, as we have three color receptors to their two. While they can see some colors, and don't view the world in black and white as the widespread myth would have you believe, they can't see as many colors as we can.
By a Labrador Retriever lover Tim Falk
Published: 06/08/2018, edited: 04/06/2020
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