Dog owners have always known that dogs are incredibly intelligent creatures. However, recently some studies were carried out about canine abilities to detect cancer at its early stages. Having read a heartwarming story about Dr Guest’s wonderful dog that possibly saved her life, Gudog present you an insight from the Business Insider.
Dogs can use their noses to sniff out bombs and drugs, lead manhunts for murderers, and rescue people from disasters. And, now, they can even diagnose diseases.
Scientists have already shown dogs to be effective at detecting infections, and in 2004 a team of British scientists found dogs could detect bladder cancer just by sniffing a patient’s urine. Dogs can also predict seizures in epileptics and potentially life-threatening “superbug” infections. The field has exploded in the last decade. Now it seems, dogs are being used for everything.
How does it work, you might ask? Training dogs for scent detection works through a simple but lengthy process called imprinting. Trainers begin by taking an object familiar to the dog, say, a blanket, and covering the object with a bit of whatever substance they are trying to train the dog to detect — explosives, drugs, or even a human or animal scent.
They place the blanket with the target scent in a box and wait for the dog to find it. The trainers repeat this process over and over, each time reducing the size of the blanket and increasing the proportion of the scent. In the final step, they remove the blanket entirely, leaving only a patch of the target scent for the dog to detect. If the dog knows to go after the scent, it is ready for field work.
The team first trained the dogs to detect an ovarian tumour. Then they trained the dog to detect the plasma taken from the tumour. The final step is a bit more complicated. While the team trains the dogs, chemists break down the cancerous ovarian plasma into its individual chemical components. If they are successful, the research could lead to the development of a new device that could save thousands of lives every year.
There is also a non-profit organisation Dogs Detect Cancer, based in the US. We highly recommend to check it out and donate to a good cause.