Middlebrook Animal Clinic

9229 Middlebrook Pike
Knoxville, TN 37931

(865)691-8577

middlebrookanimal.com

Odds N' Ends
and other bits of interesting news
So Animals Can Smell Fear... 
    Swiss researchers recently discovered that mice sense fear by using their nose.  A group of scientists from the University of Lausanne have identified a bundle of nerves in the nose of mice that have the ability to sniff out "alarm pheromones," which suggests that the rodents can literally smell fear.  The scientists were able to harvest such alarm pheromones, which are the chemicals that the animal releases when they feel threatened.  When these chemicals were placed into a water dish, healthy mice backed away, ran from the bowl, and would freeze in a corner of their cage.
   When the mice were altered in the area of their Grueneberg ganglion, a specific area in the olfactory center, they did not respond to the alarm pheromones.  Such mice could still sniff out and find hidden food, but lacked the same fear response of healthy mice that could detect the alarm pheromones with their intact Grueneberg ganglion.
   This may prove a theory that we have had about companion animals for many years.  That is, animals can smell fear.  So even if a person does not appear fearful of an animal, the animal can still sense their anxiety.  This evidence could support the wisdom behind preventing a person who has some fears of dogs or cats from being around the animal of which they are fearful.  Many dogs or cats will behave differently, and possibly more aggressively, if they sense that a person is nervous around them.