Medical Conditions That Dogs Can Sniff Out

As compared to other pets, we all agree that dogs are pretty responsive and understanding. Talk to a dog lover, and you understand how cooperative and faithful this animal is.

Dogs are proven to exhibit an extraordinary sense of smell, and research suggests that these loyal friends can better predict illness than other conventional tests. In addition, a plethora of evidence is available that suggests dogs can sniff and detect morbidities.

Malaria

By sniffing a person’s socks, dogs, especially Labrador, could detect that the individual has malaria without any symptoms.

Diabetes

Dogs can generally detect blood sugar levels by sniffing their owner’s sweat or breath. This is because they can detect isoprene, a natural chemical found in humans’ breath, and significantly rises if the blood glucose levels drop.

Cancer

 

Certain cancers such as prostate and breast cancer are highly increasing, and dogs can identify them. For example, studies have reported that German Shepard’s can identify prostate cancer by the smell of urine sample and identify women with breast cancer by sniffing their breath. 

Covid-19

 

As fascinating as it sounds, Covid-19 has created an immense misbalance in the world. With thousands of research carried in various fields, some researchers thought out of the box and looked for faster approaches to detect Covid-19 positive individuals. As a result, dog trainers are proclaiming extraordinary results as these canines detect the virus with accuracy.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease initiates 10 to 15 years before the tremors one experiences, and therefore, the clinical diagnosis is difficult during these initial years. However, an individual with Parkinson’s lets out a peculiar smell that a dog can recognize, therefore, aid in a faster diagnosis.

Migraines

Many say that dogs can detect if their owner will suffer from a migraine headache by detecting serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that exponentially rises before a migraine episode. Knowing that one might get an attack soon can be very helpful in managing the problem.

Infections

Individuals admitted to hospitals are prone to infections, particularly infections such as superbug infections. This is predominantly due to the use of antibiotics that kill good as well as harmful bacteria. Dogs can sense these bacterial infections by sniffing the stools of infected individuals.

Narcolepsy

This disorder usually affects sleep-wake cycles, and an individual is prone to sleep anywhere and at any time, even while performing a task. By smelling sweat samples, dogs can detect the distinct smell of the disorder.

Anxiety

Dogs can very well recognize our intense, stressful behavior and know we are in pain. Dogs can smell a surge of hormones that rushes through us during times of fear and stress. These hormones can include adrenaline and cortisol, which flow throughout the bloodstream.

In general, dogs can sense illness in humans. Being prematurely sensitive to humans’ changes can even feel a difference in a person’s mood. Be it hormonal changes or metabolic changes, these are easily recognizable by a dog’s sixth sense and perceived as an illness by them.

How Are Dogs Able To Sniff These Diseases?

Dogs have over 10,000 times more receptors than humans, making them viable to all types of odor that we can’t even perceive. Studies have demonstrated that particular regions in the dog’s brain, called the caudate and olfactory bulb, are involved in this positive association. A dog’s brain can remember the smell of a familiar human, and even in the absence of that human. The caudate can respond, suggesting that dogs can discriminate between scents of knowledgeable persons and strangers and change the odor of familiar individuals.

This enhanced odor detection capacity gives the dogs the ability to detect a wide range of chemical compounds and detect even subtle changes if found. Other morbidities cause the human body to release distinct patterns of volatile organic compounds, which can quickly evaporate and create scents that the dogs pick up.

Dogs In Clinical Settings

Dogs serve humanity in numerous ways. Apart from helping detect medical conditions, they can also be used in therapy settings to lower blood sugar levels, raise mental stimulations, and help cope with anxiety and stress.

Programs such as Therapy Dogs International (TDI) closely associate with hospitals and include therapy animal approaches to improve the overall health quality and experience while in a hospital setting.

Animal-assisted therapy is a globally growing field, and dogs are becoming widely applicable in clinical settings. However, hospital settings can create a sense of distress such as lack of sleep, overthinking the possible outcomes, unprecedented situations, and loneliness. To help reduce this exaggerated form of anxiety, hospitals have newer approaches, including animal-assisted therapy.

Can Dogs Be Therapists?

While your heart may melt seeing this four-pawed cutie with a lab coat around, this idea is not very practical as it sounds. First, these dogs have to be rigorously trained to examine the disease of choice. Training being expensive, this approach can have associated limitations. In addition, there can be a bias as dogs get bored and tired of long working hours, just like humans, thereby creating variability in the results.

Final Note!

Dogs can reduce our stress away and increase the quality of life in humans with morbidities. However, we aren’t quite there to clinically proclaim dogs as warrior detectors as more and more research is required. These studies then need to pass through peer-reviewed journals to be published and used widely globally to be accepted as alternatives and human-friendly approaches to disease detection.