It’s no big secret that dogs have an excellent sense of smell – certainly much better than our human noses.
But it might come as a surprise that a dog’s olfactory abilities are so great that he can potentially sniff out cancer in humans.
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Curious nose saved his owner’s life!
Debra North of Milford says her rescue dog Abby returned the favor and saved her life with her sense of smell. The woman was prompted to visit her doctor after Abby kept pawing and acting strange at the affected area.
Cancer Research said it is thought some tumors produce molecules which can be picked up by dogs with an astounding sense of smell.
Debra noticed her dog was acting differently for about two weeks with focusing on woman’s right breast and by the end of the month, she decided to visit her GP.
A biopsy and mammogram confirmed she had stage 2 breast cancer. The woman said:
“All the doctors and everybody said that had I waited another 6 months and we might be have a totaly different conversation”
Debra says that she completely owes her to life to Abby.
Dogs that detect cancer
- Organizations like the UK-based group Medical Detection Dogs (MDD) train dogs to detect the odor of human disease in samples such as urine, breath, and skin swabs. MDD pups then participate in research studies to advance the understanding of how dogs can help with medical diagnoses.
- All dogs and breeds have the capability to detect cancer, especially those with a high hunt drive
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- Typically, Labradors and Working Spaniels are trained as cancer detection dogs as they have good noses and love searching and hunting for toys
- About 30% of their brain is dedicated to analyzing odor, including the minute smells associated with many cancers
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All in all, the research on how pups can be used in regular medical practice is still developing, but thanks to different organizations like MDD, it’s certainly advancing. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll have dogs with special sniffers like Abby’s in hospitals everywhere.