The Canine Senses—Diagnosing Serious Diseases

Dogs are versatile creatures used in a variety of settings to assist humans with things that may otherwise be difficult or impossible. Dogs sniff out bombs and drugs, help search and rescue teams, guide the visually impaired and even go into combat with the military. That’s not even where it ends, as dogs can now help detect the presence of diseases and certain medical conditions in patients. Most of the conditions are detected through the dog’s sense of smell, but scientists are still not exactly sure how they do it.

Dogs can be trained to detect low blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. They pick up scents that go unnoticed by their owners and act accordingly by alerting them. Dogs can also use their impressive olfactory sense to detect certain forms of cancer. Bladder cancer can be detected through sniffing urine samples and lung cancer can be detected through the patient’s breath.

Another newly found amazing capability that dogs have is the ability to sense impending seizures. This circumstance also baffles doctors and scientists, though they believe it has something to do with their ability to pick up on certain scents and behavioral changes. Training a dog to do this is very difficult but it can be successful. When the attack occurs, the canine is trained to do certain things like seek help, move dangerous objects, and lie next to the person.

One thing remains true—canines are versatile and amazing animals. They have been man’s best friend for thousands of years and yet we still discover new uses and relationships for them every day.

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