Dog Lifestyle, Pet Health, Pets and Family

Can dogs smell cancer in humans? The newest dog detection research!

Dogs have sensitive noses with super strong scent receptors. Their noses are so finely-tuned that they can even smell underwater!  When we saw a question posted in a recent Reddit Thread “Can Dogs Smell Cancer?” which discussed a heart breaking story about a woman that had cancer and her dogs would not leaver her side.  The posted asked can dogs smell cancer?   


We just had to investigate whether their superpowered noses could also smell diseases.  After all, researchers are finding out that dogs can detect Covid in people’s sweat and urine so why would dogs not be able to smell cancer?  

Yes, dogs can naturally detect cancer and their abilities can be reinforced with training to accurately smell and detect cancer in humans. Dogs can sniff out several different forms of cancer such as ovarian, skin, lung, bowel, prostate and endometrial cancers. When people have cancer, their body chemistry changes and dogs can sense this change.

Like many other diseases, cancers leave specific traces, or odor signatures, in a person’s body and bodily secretions. Cancer cells, or healthy cells affected by cancer, produce and release these odor signatures. 

According to information in Experimental Biology in science daily, “dogs can use their highly evolved sense of smell to pick out blood samples from people with cancer with almost 97 percent accuracy.” For the cancer detection study, beagles were presented with a series of human blood samples.

Sniffer dogs can identify lung cancer patients from breath and urine samples. They correctly predicted 40 out of 41 cancer samples by identifying volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Dogs can sniff out several different forms of cancer such as ovarian, skin, lung, bowel, prostate and endometrial cancers. BioScentDx plans to use canine scent detection as the new cancer-detection tool. They want to develop a non-invasive way of screening for cancer and other life-threatening diseases. 


What do dogs do when they smell cancer in humans?

When a dog is detecting cancer in humans, there are some tell-tale signs you can read simply from your dog’s body language. These signs include:

  • Staring 
  • Alert expression, ears up
  • Barking 
  • Head tilting 
  • Sniffing
  • Intense focus 
  • Nose in the air or to the ground 
  • Turning head to follow scent 
  • Tail up but not wag
  • Rapid inhalation and exhalation 
  • Scratching or pawing at source of scent


Training dogs to smell cancer in humans

Doctors and researchers use different techniques to train dogs to detect cancer. Usually, a dog is trained by sniffing small containers holding different blood plasma or urine samples, one of which is cancerous. When the dog stops sniffing and sits in front of the cancerous blood sample, they are rewarded with a treat.  

Dogs are trained to detect the particular chemical in cancerous blood, urine, or any kind of waste over a period of time. It takes time, patience, and dedication to train cancer detection dogs. Through proper training, the dogs and the information they collect enable us to help sick people all over!

Researchers have produced strong evidence that dogs can detect other diseases as well including Parkinson’s Disease, Diabetes, and Malaria.


Final thoughts About Amazing Dogs Smelling Cancer

Dogs are amazing and priceless creatures, aren’t they? A dog’s sense of smell is almost 100,000 times stronger than humans. Dogs have been trained to detect many human diseases including cancer and most recently, COVID-19.

Although there is currently no cure for cancer but early detection offers the best hope of survival. Dogs can not only detect cancer, but that by detecting cancers, they save countless lives every day. 

“A highly sensitive test for detecting cancer could potentially save thousands of lives and change the way the disease is treated.” Heather Junqueira, of the BioScentDX cancer research group in Florida.

What are your thoughts?  Do you think your dog could smell cancer?