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Top 13 Surprising Things That Dogs Can Smell

Can Dog Smell Cancer? Top 13 Surprising Things That Dogs Can Smell

Can Dog Smell Cancer

Dogs can smell just about anything. They understand and explore the world through the olfactory system in their noses. Their sense of smell is almost 100,000x more accurate than humans. When they smell the air, all of it doesn’t just go to their lungs. Some of it goes to a part of their nose that is specifically for odor detection. With qualified training and handler, canines can catch anything and anyone.

Here is a list of things that dogs can smell.

1. Cancer

Can Dogs Smell Cancer

Dogs are famous for their sensitivity to smell. They can distinguish the slightest change of smell in humans caused by diseases. Humans have found a way to teach dogs to sniff out cancer in humans, specifically lung, breast, and skin cancer. When we are sick, these cancer-sniffing canines can spot the difference in our hormones through our urine and sweat glands.

With the help of our unlikely furry friends, we can now detect the early stages of cancer, potentially saving the lives of thousands of people without a lot of invasive procedures.

2. Diabetes

Can Dog Smell Cancer

Just like cancer, dogs can identify when someone has low blood sugar through their breath and sweat. However, they can only aid with Type-1 diabetes. When a person has Type-1 diabetes, the body releases a chemical compound called isoprene that dogs can sniff out. Some dog handlers can even train dogs to fetch glucose tabs and juices and even retrieve an emergency phone.

3. Anxiety Attacks

Can Dogs Smell Cancer

There is no doubt that our relationship with dogs goes deeper than any other animal. Dogs can figure out different types of human emotions. That is why they make great psychiatric service animals. Now, they can comfort a person who is experiencing mild to severe anxiety attacks. Our hormones change our scent when we are having an anxiety attack. So dogs can pick up this scent even before it happens.

4. CoronaVirus

Can Dog Smell Cancer

Sniffing is their ultimate superpower. Canines are the closest being that we have that is comparable to superheroes. They have been protecting us for over 30,000 years, and they still do today through the olfactory system in their noses.

The University of Pennsylvania is currently training Labrador Retrievers to identify people for Covid-19. Dogs are perfect for non-intrusive screening at airports, hospitals, and other gathering areas. However, they will not fully replace testing kits.

5. People

Can Dog Smell Cancer
Can Dog Smell Cancer

Dogs are truly amazing. They can also tell when their owners are about to arrive, not only because they can hear us but also because they know our routine. For our fur babies, our scent is almost like a timer. Once it reaches a certain potency, they know we are coming home. 

6. Diseases on Plants

Can a Dog Smell Cancer

Dogs can detect diseases in plants in their early stages. At the Florida International University, three dogs were observed and trained to expose Laurel wilt disease in avocado farms. They conducted over 200 trials, and they only had 12 false alerts. Dogs can help save millions of dollars in the agricultural industry. They have proven yet again they are man’s best friend.

7. Bed Bugs

Can Dog Smell Cancer
Can Dog Smell Cancer

Dogs are not born to reveal bed bugs to humans. Instead, they need specific training to help them locate these house pests accurately. Bed bugs give off a unique scent barely noticeable to humans in small quantities, while dogs have a 95% accuracy rate.

8. Pregnancy and Ovulation

Can Dog Smell Cancer

Dogs are susceptible to smell. It takes a lot of focus and training to follow only one scent at a time. They must ignore every sound, sight, and odor that is around them. Dogs can get a lot of information from the smell alone. They can smell if a woman or other animals are pregnant or ovulating. Our hormones change our aroma that is noticeable only to dogs.

9. Whale Poop

Can Dog Smell Cancer

Surprisingly dogs are also trainable to sniff out whale poop. The most famous dog to track whale poop is a rescued Labrador-cross named Tucker. But why whale poop? Well, biologists can learn so much from wildlife scat (poop), like what causes some whale populations to decrease. To save these creatures, biologists need to understand how they live through their poop — which is why dogs have become vital in conservation work.

10. Minerals Underground

Can Dog Smell Cancer
Can Dog Smell Cancer

It’s been a long time since the last gold rush. We now have high-tech equipment and our furry four-legged friends to unearth precious minerals for the steel industry. Humans train dogs to scout for ores since they are pups. It takes a lot of focus and training to follow only one scent at a time. They signal their handlers by wagging its tail and digging into the ground around where the spot is the strongest.

11. Diseased Bee Hives

Can Dog Smell Cancer
Can Dog Smell Cancer

Honey bees are important not only in the food industry but also to the environment. Bees colonies suffer from a bacteria called foulbrood. It takes four people working full time to cover over 1,000 bee colonies — while it only takes half the time for one dog to do the same job

12. DVDs

dogs smelling cancer

Sniffer-dogs catch bad guys all over the world. Now that they can uncover the scent of DVDs, they can help Hollywood stop illegal copies of movies. They even caught the attention of Malaysian DVD pirates who offered $30,000 to kill sniffer dogs.

Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) sponsored 2 Labrador Retrievers to smell the polycarbonate plastic in DVDs. These two doggy detectives can expose black-market movie copies, helping Hollywood save billions of dollars in revenue.

13. Natural Disasters

does cancer have a scent

Dogs have a 6th sense that allows them to predict the future. Canines behave differently when they feel like something wrong is about to happen. When they sense that a natural disaster is about to occur, dogs will show restlessness. They will sniff around or stay alert with lots of barking, whining, and pacing. More often than not, dogs don’t even understand this feeling. They just know that there is something wrong. But dogs are so loyal and protective they are unlikely to leave their owners.


NJ Caplinger

As a child, NJ Caplinger has always wondered about the world around her. Growing up she found a connection with nature that was deeply rooted within her throughout. An intimate relationship that solidified when she landed a job as an Island Manager on an island sanctuary by an NGO, PRRCFI. She launched an inspiring brand, Circularware as a beacon to curve pollution. Now a mother, she hopes to show her daughter the extraordinary world around us.

Jace Sinclair
Jace Sinclair
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