Doggie Doctors

November 12, 2008 · Print This Article

Have you ever noticed how your dog seems to be able to sense when you are down or not feeling well?  They usually want to cuddle with you and take care of you.  There was a story that circulated on the Internet recently about a woman who had cancer.  When she lay down to take a nap, she awoke to find herself covered in dog toys, the precious treasures her dog had brought from his toybox in the basement.  How do they do it?  Recent research is pointing to their awesome sense of smell.

The Pine Street Foundation is currently conducting a study using dogs to sniff the breath of women, checking to see if they have ovarian cancer.  Other dogs have alerted their owners to skin cancers.  And it is fairly well known that dogs can detect an epileptic seizure before it occurs.  In addition, they can sense low blood sugar before a diabetic patient slips into a coma and can foretell an oncoming heart attack.

Dr. Larry Myers, associate professor at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine says that dogs are able to detect combinations of chemicals which leads to this amazing ability to sense medical problems.  

Dr. Myers also points out that it’s not just bloodhounds who have this ability.  Most of the studies have used other breeds, and none of the studies have used only one breed.   “There’s enormous variability within the breed and on an individual level.”

Most of this is still at the research level, although there are many stories of animals pestering their human friends until the humans pay attention and find a medical problem at the location the dog was worrying over. 

Bottom line, if you pet starts pawing you or otherwise trying to call your attention to a certain part of your body, pay attention!

Until next time,

Good day, and good dog!

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