Exciting Experiments On Dogs: Dogs Can Smell Cancer, Diabetes, and Low Blood Sugar Level on Human Body.
Every year we hear of new studies that universities and medical institutes are undertaking to determine whether or not dogs can smell cancer and low blood sugar in humans.
Some studies have concluded that because a dog’s sense of smell is so much stronger than humans that they can, in fact, detect certain changes to a person’s body. A dog’s nose has twenty-five times more smell receptors than we do and their olfactory cortex is forty times larger than that of humans. Also unlike humans, dogs have what is essentially a second nose called Jacobson’s organ which is located in the back of their noses. Therefore, it is, of course, easier for them to smell unique scents that diseases like cancer and diabetes emit.
As cancer develops in the body, the cancerous cells will release different metabolic waste than that of a healthy cell, and it is this waste product that produces a scent that dogs can detect. To put dogs to the test, there have been various studies done in the past decade to determine whether they can, in fact, smell cancer and low blood sugar or whether it is just a coincidence. We commonly hear that many dogs have drawn attention to a particular part of their owner’s body which happened to be the area where cancer cells were detected. However, statements like these need to be tested.
The first study to be done was in England in 2004, and its findings were published in the British journal of medicine. This trial revolved around six dogs who were trained to detect urine samples that belonged to patients with bladder cancer. Though the result of forty-one percent success rate was not fantastic, it was still surprisingly high as many researchers were skeptical of a dog’s ability to scent cancer.
However, after this trial, in 2006 the Pine Street Foundation in California trained dogs to detect lung cancer and breast cancer in patients. However, unlike the previous study, dogs would smell the breath of patients suffering from cancer rather than urine samples. This change proved much more successful as it had an eighty-eight percent success rate with breast cancer and an even higher success rate with lung cancer at ninety-seven percent.
Therefore, it is clear that each trial proves even more successful than the last, but so far this talent has only been used for research purposes, and dogs most likely will not be used to detect cancer anytime soon but for now they are being used to help with other issues such as diabetes.
There have been studies done to discover whether they can detect low blood sugar or hypoglycemia, in diabetes patients. It turns out that they can, in fact, recognize dropping blood sugar levels thirty minutes before the patient displays any symptoms, and this is why we now have diabetes assist dogs.
These dogs are trained from when they are a puppy to be able to detect a particular smell on a human’s breath that is a symptom of their blood sugar levels dropping. This process produces a particular kind of smell as a result of chemical changes in the body. This chemical is isoprene, which naturally occurs in the body and the amount increases when blood sugar levels begin to drop. It is a scent that only a dog’s nose can identify. They are then trained to alert their owners by touching them with their paw or nudging them as a signal to check their blood sugar level and to inject themselves with insulin. These dogs usually wear a backpack that identifies them as an assistance dog and in this pack, they often carry medical supplies like a sugar source and medical and emergency contact information.
When they are young, a puppy is evaluated to see how strong their nose is and to determine whether they are willing to work. If they present the traits needed to be a diabetes assist dog they are then trained until they reach eighteen months of age. During this time they go through obedience training, and they are also socialized very young as these two traits are vital for an assistance dog to be good at their job. They will accompany their owner everywhere and therefore they will need to be able to work in hectic environments and be able to remain calm and do their job regardless of who and what’s around to distract them.
Diabetic assist dogs are crucial to their owner’s health as sometimes it can be difficult to check your glucose level in certain situations such as driving and sleeping or you may just forget to check. However, forgetting or being in a position where you are unable to test your glucose levels can have dire consequences. Therefore, having a diabetic assist dog to remind you takes away this danger especially when you are sleeping as many people living with diabetes have to wake numerous times throughout the night to inject themselves with insulin. However, this can have its challenges as you may easily sleep through an alarm or simply fall back to sleep. This is a very dangerous possibility as people with diabetes run the risk of falling into a diabetic coma while they are sleeping. However, having a diabetes assist dog will help with this as they are trained to alert you up once they smell your glucose level dropping. And unlike an alarm, you cannot turn a dog off.
Therefore, it is clear that dogs are becoming very useful in the medical field. From being able to detect certain types of cancer to assisting those with type I diabetes. Because we are now aware of how dogs can help with these ailments and research is continually being done to discover how dogs can do this, it opens up the possibility for new ways to detect for cancer and diabetes, ways that can mimic what a dog can do without the need for a dog.