Can Dogs Sniff Out Illnesses?

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It is common knowledge that dogs have stronger senses than human beings, and their sense of smell can really do much for you. Besides being amazing companions, dogs can also bring benefits to your health. Dogs have a sense of smell that is a million times stronger than ours, and that makes them great trackers and hunters, police dogs and good at many other things. They are also able to sense things that we usually don’t, and this is what could save your life at some point. Your dog will always tend to protect you from intruders, if there are some, but they can also sense if there is something in your body that is out of balance, or something that simply doesn’t belong there. Animal Planet reports that there really are dogs that can smell cancer inside a person, a claim supported by research published in American Cancer Society in 2010.

If you notice your dog is focusing on one part of your body more frequently than on anything else, it might be good to go to the doctor’s office to check if there is something wrong with that area.

Some substances that enter our bodies and potentially harm us change our odor and dogs can usually sense it. Dogs are able to smell chemicals also known as VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are toxic to our bodies, and that is how they know that a person is in health danger.

Dogs are also able to feel when their owner has high blood pressure or migraine, and is able to sense and warn the human of an about-to-happen heart attack.

Warning about epilepsy seizures

Some dogs even have the ability to realize that its owner is about to have an epilepsy seizure, and those dogs are trained to warn their owners before the seizure happens, so it impacts the sufferer less and they have time to prepare for what is about to happen.

Detecting diabetic problems


Medical News Today published a research review from Medical Detention Dogs in which it was shown that dogs of diabetic persons are able to sense when the blood sugar levels are lower than they should be, so they alert their owners before they fall into hypoglycemia.

However, dogs don’t just start detecting illnesses on their own. There might be such dogs, but most commonly they need to be trained so their sense of smell can accurately detect health problems. Dogs4Diabetics train dogs for these purposes, and they take breeds that are raised to be social and have learned to work. The most common breeds of these dogs are Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, or a mix bread of the two. The director of Dogs4Diabetics told Medical News Today that dogs can sniff out hypoglycemia because they are trained to sense the breath of a diabetic person, or their sweat, which smells completely different to a dog when the person is in hypoglycemia.

Detecting infection

Some research also showed that dogs can sense the presence of bacteria called clostridium difficile, which often causes infections in patients who are hospitalized – it is transmittable through air and stool samples.

Detecting cancer

The dogs that can sniff out cancer are commonly called “bio-detection dogs”, as Medical News Today reports. They published a study review about dogs and their ability to sense when a person is suffering from ovarian cancer. The research showed that VOCs (or odors) change in the early stages of ovarian cancer, and as dogs are able to sense those odors and VOCs, they are able to notice the change and detect the cancer.

Another study that was conducted in 2011 by the researchers from Medical Detection Dogs showed that dogs can also detect bladder cancer because VOCs can indicate this type of cancer as well. The research showed that trained dogs were 56% to 92% able to correctly detect the cancer.

It is no wonder that dog is considered to be a man’s best friend. They can literally save our lives by warning us about a seizure or notifying us that something isn’t right with our health. Their ability to sense their owners’ changes has to do with the bond the dog has with its owner, but as humans and dogs share a special and strong bond, their ability is always prominent, especially when they have had proper training.