Can a Dog Smell Drugs in Your Stomach?

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Introduction

You've heard the lore of the power behind your dog's nose - but exactly how powerful is it? Dogs can sniff out drugs, detect cancer with their noses, and even smell new babies inside a woman's womb, but can they do the unthinkable? Can dogs smell drugs inside your stomach? 

The short answer: yes, sort of. Dogs' noses are insanely powerful. Dogs have about 25 times more smell receptors than people do and can smell concentrations at about 100 million times lower than human beings can. To put that in perspective, if you took the sensory skin tissue off your dog's nose, laid it flat, and spread it out, you'd have about 450 square feet of sensory tissue - that's about the size of a tiny studio apartment. Within that square footage are over 200 million scent receptors, 15 million of which have infrared detection, too

For the longer answer about doggy-sniffing capabilities, read on! We've got all the information about drug dogs, how dogs sensory receptors work, and information on how you can train your dog to become a drug-detecting-machine. Enjoy! 

Signs Your Dog has Smelled Drugs

Dogs are specially trained to sniff out drugs, and although they may not be able to tell right away that you've been storing drugs in your stomach, it's likely they'll be able to detect them based off your scent cones surrounding your body ( a concept we'll get into in a bit). Why is that? They've been specially trained to do so! 

So, what will a trained drug-dog do to let you, the police, or their trainer know that they've detected the drugs they're looking for? First, they'll do a ton of sniffing. When your dog catches the familiar scent they're looking for, you better believe they're going to investigate. Expect a sniffing frenzy. 

Next, your dog will definitely bark up a storm. Your dog has been trained to sniff out something familiar, and when they find it after sniffing like crazy, they're going to want to get your attention. Barks, growls, and other howls are not off-limits, and you can certainly expect your doggo to do those things. 

You can also expect your dog to do a ton of scratching in the area that they have found the drugs! Expect your pooch to just go absolutely wild with scratching, growling, barking, and jumping when he or she finds the drugs they're looking for. 

Body Language

Body language you can expect from your dog when they're trained to sniff out drugs includes:
  • Alert
  • Barking
  • Guarding
  • Panting
  • Scratching
  • Sniffing

Other Signs

Here are a few other signs you should watch out for:
  • Growling
  • Playfulness
  • Nervousness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Howling
  • Barking

History of Dogs Smelling for Drugs

People have been partnering with dogs throughout history for all kinds of tasks. While we've used pups as companions, they started as our work-place partners, tracing all the way back to the early days of farming. It was only natural that in the 1940s, we'd employ our canine companions in a different line of work that involved their strongest skill - sniffing. 

Our use of detection dogs started in 1940 when the US used pups to sniff out German bombs in North Africa. Then, in the 1970s, we evolved our use for doggo sniffers and created fleets of drug-sniffing dogs that were designed to find methamphetamines, marijuana, heroin, cocaine, and more! Now, police forces, goverment organizations, and even private companies train and mantain fleets of pups for this exact purpose.

The Science Behind Dogs Smelling Drugs

You might be asking yourself, "How is it that dogs' noses are strong enough to smell through objects and detect things like drugs?" To consider this, it's important that you think of why dogs are able to do this. Instead of asking that question, think about how odors are emitted and how they are detected. 

Instead of dogs smelling through things, consider that odors permeate from everything. Odors create whats called a scent cone which is not restricted by its container. That means everything creates a scent and generally, that scent cone will emanate from a static location up to a cylindrical configuration that will be affected or distorted by heat, moisture, air, sun, shade, and more. 

Odors are detectable and this happens because of molecular movements from solids and liquids into the atmosphere. So, each odor will create its own scent cone outside of whatever it's being stored in, and your dog is trained to track down that scent cone specifically.

Training Your Dog to Sniff Out Drugs

The idea of your dog being able to sniff out drugs, be a superhero, and use their sniffer to bring justice is a wonderful idea, isn't it? However, it's not really something you can do on your own at home. Not that we don't have confidence in you, or your dog's abilities, to train and be trained. It's just that to properly train a drug dog, you need access to, well, drugs. And while it's a noble cause, we don't see your local law enforcement being on board with handing you drugs to train your dog. 

That being said, consider working with a trainer to get your pup certified as a drug dog. For starters, make sure you're taking your dog to a trainer while he or she is still young. They need to have outgrown most of their puppy tendencies, but must have that youthful desire to run, play, chase, and sniff instilled in them. 

Once your trainer has developed a relationship with your dog, he or she will start the training process in a surprising way - by playing. Your trainer will have a specific toy or towel and they'll get your dog hooked on playing with it. 

Gradually, they'll introduce drugs into that toy or towel so your dog associates that scent with their favorite toy. That's right - when drug dogs detect drugs, they don't know that they're finding something bad. Instead, they think they're finding their favorite toy and that it will be playtime soon enough!

How to React if Your Dog Smells Drugs:

  • Make sure you contact the authorities.
  • Reward your dog immensely.
  • Ensure your dog didn't ingest any of the drug that they found.
  • Consider training your dog for drug sniffing.

Tell Us About Your Drug-Sniffing Dog!