What diseases can a dog detect? Here is the list!

2 min


We all know that dogs have an extraordinary sense of smell. And now we learn, thanks to science, that they can also detect serious diseases even faster than conventional medical tests.

Canine smell is unique. So far we have seen hundreds of dogs around the world searching for drugs, bombs, living people buried by an earthquake or bodies of the deceased ( in this report we show you some examples).

Can dogs detect disease?

Understanding how your smell works has been attracting the attention of science for hundreds of years . Now experts have started to show that our furry friends are also capable of detecting diseases like Parkinson’s and diabetes.

This is so because, for example, malignant tissues release very different chemicals than healthy tissues do, and this is the difference that they track. In addition, recent studies have shown that dogs can smell the urine of a person with cancer and recognize the disease. Something that is not appreciable, according to the researchers, for the human nose.

Much better known is the idea that dogs detect diabetes, because there are already numerous testimonies from people who affirm and confirm it. There is even specific training for dogs to detect low blood sugar levels in people. But these are not the only diseases that are available to your … truffle!

5 diseases a dog can detect

1. Malaria

In October 2018 , an extraordinary finding was announced at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine in New Orleans (USA). What did it consist of? A study has shown that dogs (the test was done with Labradors, here you know all the characteristics of this special breed) can detect malaria. 

The test pointed out that dogs can tell that a human being has the disease by smelling the used socks of someone infected with the Plasmodium parasite. 

2. Diabetes

As we have already told you at the beginning of the article, dogs can detect and save the life of a diabetic person . Like guide dogs , more and more doctors are speaking to their diabetic patients about this reality. In fact, in England there is the charity Hypo Hounds , which trains dogs to smell the body changes in the breath or sweat of the owner and can thus alert him to a change in the presence of sugar in the blood.

3. Prostate cancer

In 2015 a team of Italian scientists managed to train two German Shepherds, in this link you will get more information about this intelligent breed, so that they detect chemicals associated with prostate cancer in urine.

The success rate of the experiment remained at 90% no less, a very high value especially if we consider that the standard analytical test (PSA) is not considered one hundred percent reliable.

By the way, research is also being carried out on the possibility that dogs can detect lung cancer at an early stage. None of this should surprise us, as they have 300 million olfactory receptors . The humans? We only have 5 million …

4. Breast cancer

Dogs are also being trained in England to detect breast cancer. Although it is not the only country in the world that is committed to it. In Spain, specifically, the Bocalán Foundation  invests its money and time in training dogs to detect this disease. 

If progress is made in this condition, the exposure to radiation that women must undergo in most cases as the main diagnostic tests will be considerably reduced .

5. Parkinson

At the moment the tests are still in a very experimental phase. But there are those who speculate that dogs could detect the possibility of a person contracting the disease even several years before it begins to cause the first symptoms.

In Washington, according to El País, they have been training dogs for a couple of years with the aim that they detect the disease thanks to their smell. The data published on these tests reveals that it has been achieved an effectiveness that is close to 90%. In the same vein, researchers from the University of Manchester (United Kingdom), together with experts from Medical Detection Dogs, have been training Labrador and Cocker Spaniel dogs for some time  to detect Parkinson’s prematurely. 

If this is confirmed, it would be a great advance in the fight against Parkinson’s since this ailment is still very difficult to diagnose and when doctors confirm it to patients in most cases 60% of the neuronal damage is already done . 

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Divyesh Patel