It’s no big secret that dogs have an excellent sense of smell, certainly much better than our human sense of smell.
But it may come as a surprise that a dog’s olfactory abilities are so great that they can potentially detect cancer in humans.
Curious nose saved the life of its owner!
Milford’s Debra North says her rescue dog, Abby, returned the favor and saved her life using her sense of smell. The woman was told to go see her doctor after Abby continued to fondle and act strange in the affected area.
Cancer Research said that some tumors are believed to produce molecules that can be ingested by dogs with an incredible sense of smell.
Debra noticed that her dog acted differently for about two weeks by concentrating on the woman’s right breast, and at the end of the month she decided to see her GP.
A biopsy and mammogram confirmed that she had stage 2 breast cancer. The woman said:
“All the doctors and everyone said that if I had waited another 6 months, we could have a completely different conversation.”
Debra says she owes her life entirely to Abby.
Dogs Detecting Cancer
- Organizations like the UK-based Medical Detection Dogs (MDD) group train dogs to detect the odor of human diseases in samples such as urine, breath, and skin swabs. The MDD puppies then participate in research studies to improve understanding of how dogs can help with medical diagnoses.
- All dogs and breeds have the ability to detect cancer, especially those with high hunting instincts
- Labradors and working spaniels are generally trained to be cancer-detecting dogs because they have good noses and love to hunt for toys and hunt
- Approximately 30% of their brains are dedicated to analyzing odors, including the minute odors associated with many cancers
All in all, research on how puppies can be used in routine medical practice is still developing, but it is certainly moving forward thanks to various organizations like MDD. Who knows, maybe at some point we will have dogs all over the place with special trackers like Abby’s in hospitals.