top of page
  • Writer's pictureMary Puppins

Top Dogs Sniffing Out Cancer And Covid-19

Updated: Feb 22

Dogs sniffing out cancer and covid-19

Dogs Sniffing Out Cancer And COVID-19

Dogs are more than just our best friends.

They are also excellent detectives.

Capable dogs sniffing out cancer and COVID-19 with their powerful noses.

In this blog, we'll explore the remarkable ability of dogs to detect diseases and how they are helping medical research.

Dogs have a sense of smell that is 10,000 to 100,000 times more sensitive than ours.

They can detect odours in parts per trillion, which means they can smell a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water.

This incredible olfactory prowess allows them to identify subtle changes in the body chemistry of humans and animals, such as those caused by cancer or viral infections.


"Veterinarian Cynthia Otto trains dogs to detect COVID-19 and other diseases. Dogs have been recognizing changes in odour in humans for a long time. The first evidence for their ability to smell disease was of a dog sniffing and biting a woman's mole, which turned out to be a melanoma. That raised the idea that cancer might be detectable by smell, and that dogs could be used in diagnostics." nature


Dogs Sniffing Out Cancer: A Breakthrough in Early Detection

One of the most promising applications of dogs' detection abilities is in cancer screening.

Cancer is a huge cause of death globally, and early identification is crucial for improving survival rates and treatment outcomes.

However, current screening methods, such as blood tests, biopsies, and imaging scans, are often invasive, expensive, or inaccurate.

That's where dogs come in.

Dogs sniffing out cancer in breath, urine, saliva, sweat, or tissue samples with remarkable accuracy and speed.

Studies have shown that dogs can detect different variations of cancer, such as breast, lung, prostate, ovarian, and skin cancer, with sensitivity and specificity rates ranging from 88% to 99%.

Some dogs can even detect cancer early before any symptoms appear.

How do dogs do it?

Scientists believe that dogs can smell volatile organic compounds (VOCs), molecules that evaporate from the surface of cells and tissues.

VOCs are influenced by the metabolic processes of cells, and cancer cells have different metabolic profiles than normal cells.

Therefore, dogs can distinguish between the VOCs of healthy and cancerous tissues.

Medical Detection: Dogs Sniffing Out Cancer

Not only are dogs sniffing out cancer in labs and clinics, they are also doing it in our homes and communities.

Many dog owners have reported that their pampered pooches have alerted them to their cancer by licking, nudging, or barking at the affected area.

Some dogs have even saved their owners' lives by detecting cancer before it was too late.


"Research shows that dogs can sniff out evidence of cancer and other diseases with impressive accuracy—and a recent study adds more evidence to suggest the same is true of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19." TIME


Small Dogs Sniffing Out Cancer And COVID-19

Dogs also play a vital role in the fight against COVID-19.

As the pandemic spread worldwide, testing and tracing are essential for containing the virus and preventing outbreaks.

However, conventional testing methods, such as PCR and antigen tests, are often limited by availability, cost, or accuracy.

Dogs offer a fast, cheap, and reliable alternative for COVID-19 testing.

Dogs can detect COVID-19 in human sweat samples with up to 94% accuracy within seconds.

They can also screen many people in public places like airports, stadiums, or schools.

Dogs can identify asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic cases of COVID-19, which are often missed by other tests.

How do dogs detect COVID-19?

Researchers think dogs can smell changes in the VOCs of human sweat caused by the infection.

COVID-19 affects the respiratory and immune systems, which may alter the VOCs produced by the body.

Dogs can sense these changes and signal if someone is infected.


"A UK trial to see whether specialist medical sniffer dogs can detect coronavirus in humans is set to begin. The dogs are already trained to detect odours of certain cancers, malaria and Parkinson's disease by the charity Medical Detection Dogs." BBC


Nose Knows Best: Canine Contributions to Medical Research

Dogs are not only helping us diagnose diseases.

They are also helping us understand them better and find new treatments.

Dogs are valuable models for medical research because they share many genetic and environmental factors with humans.

They also develop similar diseases as humans, such as cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, and Alzheimer's.

Dogs sniffing out cancer provide insights into the molecular mechanisms of cancer development and progression.

They are also helping researchers identify new biomarkers for cancer detection and new targets for cancer therapy.

Dogs sniffing out COVID-19 are shedding light on the virus's transmission dynamics and immune responses.

They are also helping researchers evaluate new vaccines and drugs for COVID-19.

Pampered pooch or not, dogs make a huge difference in medical research.

They are advancing our knowledge of human health and disease and improving our quality of life.

Small dog and owner, dogs sniffing out cancer and covid-19

From Lab to Living Room: The Evolution of Canine Detection

Dogs have been sniffing out diseases for centuries.

In ancient times, dogs were used to detect plague and leprosy by smelling the wounds or sores of infected people.

In modern times, dogs have been trained to detect diabetes or epilepsy by smelling blood sugar levels or sensing changes in brain activity.

However, dogs did not begin to sniff out cancer until the late 20th century.

The first documented case of a dog detecting cancer was in 1989 when a woman noticed her border collie constantly sniffing at a mole on her leg.

She went to the doctor and found out that the mole was malignant melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.

Since then, dogs have been trained to detect unique types of cancer in humans and animals.

They have also been trained to detect COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

Dogs have proven to be more accurate and faster than many conventional tests, and they have also shown to be more cost-effective and user-friendly.

Dogs sniffing out cancer and COVID-19 are not only saving lives, but they are also changing how we approach disease detection and prevention.

They are bringing the power of canine detection from the lab to the living room, making it more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Guardians of Health: Canine Heroes in the Modern World

Dogs are more than just our best friends.

They are also our guardians of health.

They use their unique noses to sniff out cancer and COVID-19, helping us diagnose, treat, and prevent these deadly diseases.

They also contribute to medical research, helping us understand and cure these diseases.

They are doing all this while being our loyal companions, providing us with comfort and joy.

How are dogs trained to sniff out diseases like cancer and Covid-19?

Dogs are trained to detect diseases through a process known as operant conditioning.

This involves rewarding dogs for correctly identifying positive samples for the disease being researched.

The samples used for training often include sweat, saliva, or other bodily fluids. When the dog correctly indicates a positive sample, they receive a reward, such as a treat or a toy.

What makes dogs capable of detecting diseases through smell?

Dogs have an extraordinary sense of smell, with many more scent glands than humans.

This makes their sense of smell significantly more sensitive than a human's.

When dogs inhale, they can separate the air into two paths: breathing and smelling.

This enables them to detect various smells, including the chemical indicators of illnesses like Covid-19 and cancer.

How accurate are dogs at detecting diseases like cancer and Covid-19?

Dogs' accuracy in detecting diseases like cancer and COVID-19 can vary depending on the individual dog and the disease.

Nonetheless, several studies have demonstrated that dogs are pretty good at identifying some forms of cancer and other illnesses.

It's important to note that while dogs can be a valuable tool in disease detection, they are not a substitute for medical testing and diagnosis by healthcare professionals.

What are the benefits and limitations of using dogs to detect diseases?

The benefits of using dogs to detect diseases include their ability to detect diseases early, their non-invasive nature, and their speed and efficiency.

However, there are also limitations to using dogs for disease detection.

These include the fact that dogs cannot identify the precise substances they are detecting, the requirement for in-depth training, and the possibility of false positives or negatives.

How can dogs contribute to early disease detection and diagnosis?

Dogs can contribute to early disease detection and diagnosis by identifying the scent signatures of diseases at an early stage, often before symptoms appear or before conventional tests can detect the disease.

Early intervention and therapy may be possible, leading to better patient outcomes.

However, it's important to remember that while dogs can be a valuable tool in disease detection, they are not a substitute for medical testing and diagnosis by healthcare professionals.

Final Thoughts

They are canine detectives, canine researchers, and canine heroes.

They are dogs sniffing out cancer and COVID-19, pampered pooches with a purpose.

They are making the world a better place for us and for themselves.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for veterinary advice. For specific veterinary dog health advice, contact a veterinary pet healthcare provider.

At Mary Puppins,  we prioritise your cherished pets' well-being, offering a haven of comfort and care during their stay.

Our commitment is to ensure your small breed dogs are treated like family, receiving top-notch attention and care.

BOOK NOW  via our website. We have limited places and get booked up super fast. Give your little dog the five-star VIP holiday they deserve, while you enjoy yours.

Mary Puppins, dogs sniffing out cancer, COVID-19

Mary Puppins dog sniffing out cancer and covid-19

mary puppins dog nanny expert small dog breeds uk

Kate Phillips, Chief Editor

BSc (Hons), MSc

Kate is the UK's very own Mary Puppins, a professional Dog Nanny and expert in small breed dogs. With over 30 years' experience and successfully helping high profile celebrity pet parents raise their furry families, Kate shares her top tips with you. Kate guides readers on small breed dogs, dog health, dog training, dog nutrition, dog food, dog walks, dog accessories, dog enrichment, rescue dogs, dog behaviour, dog grooming and the best products for dog mums and dog dads to create the ultimate luxury lifestyle for their small dogs.



Couldn’t Load Comments
It looks like there was a technical problem. Try reconnecting or refreshing the page.
Mary Puppins Small Dog Expert Blog

Mary Puppins Pet Parents' Blog



We provide free, useful information for pet parents of small dog breeds UK. 

Please be aware that our opinions may differ to yours and that's ok. We encourage healthy, positive discussion. 


We all love our small dogs! And want them to live a long and happy life. 

mary puppins dog blog (2).jpg

Join the Mary Puppins Pack

Thanks for subscribing!

It's FREE!

Your information is 100% secure

Subscribe to Mary Puppins for FREE and get access to all our latest content. Zero spam.


Join the Mary Puppins Pack

Subscribe to Mary Puppins for FREE and get access to all our latest content. Zero spam.

Thanks for submitting!

It's FREE! Your information is 100% secure

bottom of page