Could a dog phone have its own smell receptors?

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The micturition of microbes may account for up to half of our brain’s output

Britain’s beloved cuddly four-legged friend could soon have its own communications system.

Phones with built-in sensors can sniff out and smell the “oily waste products” of a dog and discern their other smells, researchers say.

The findings, reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could one day be used in medical treatment.

They have also offered new insight into why dogs have developed such an intuitive sense of smell.

Dr Michael E. Wilson, from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, said: “Just the smell of a dog just triggers our automatic response.

“Think about how quickly we blink, how quickly we run away, how quickly we move when it’s very hot.

“That’s because our mouths are so small, because our nostrils are so small, it’s a very simple [and] easy thing for us to act on what we’re smelling.”

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Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Even a filter may be too small for some dogs

The scientists tested the ability of the separate “two noses” of the test subject to distinguish one sweet smell from another.

Samples of pure and chemical smell were gathered by a dropper attached to the back of a dog, and separately linked to an electronic sniffer attached to a laptop and connected to a secure virtual-reality headset.

In their initial tests, two out of six dogs could correctly identify the source of each scent.

Two were then shown additional scents and the response was 100% accurate.

And, in other tests where information on a scent was connected directly to a sniffer, the pooch still told a false alarm of chemicals from a pet food that they “were getting”.

When the subjects got more than one scent in the trap at a time, the dogs were up to 75% less likely to misjudge, suggesting better guidance by smell.

Image copyrightGetty Images Image caption The advances are a similar use of plastic sensors as in human-to-human calls

Dog scientist and author Dr Danielle Tennant said the challenges on the tech front were similar to those facing human phones: a proper, secure connection and small enough to fit in the palm of a paw.

She said: “Can you imagine having a smartphone now? Can you imagine walking around a real space and there being a plastic detector around your neck? It would be tiny.”

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