5 min read


Can Dogs Sense Breast Cancer?



5 min read


Can Dogs Sense Breast Cancer?


Every year, many women (and even some men) go through the devastation of discovering they have breast cancer. Some are fortunate enough to catch it early on so that appropriate treatment can be arranged, but others do not realize until the more advanced stages.

Women, particularly those over 40 years of age, are advised to check their breasts regularly for irregularities such as lumps. This is important to boost the chances of catching cancer at an earlier stage, rather than later. However, another method that could prove invaluable in the future is the use of dogs in relation to detecting breast cancer at the early stages.


Signs Your Dog Senses Breast Cancer

Some people wonder whether their dog can actually sense breast cancer, and a lot of experts have been studying the role dogs could play in cancer detection in years to come. While ‘sense’ is probably not the right word, dogs can certainly detect breast cancer through their sense of smell. When dogs are being trained to sniff out cancer, they are exposed to the smell of fluids such as blood from patients that have cancer. However, all dogs have an excellent sense of smell, so your dog could effectively sniff out breast cancer just from your urine or your breath.

If your pooch does smell something untoward, there are various signs that you may pick up on. Medics state that when this and other cancers reach an advanced stage, dogs can smell cancer on the breath of the patient. Dogs can actually smell it at the early stages, so one thing your dog may do is sniff at the air around your face and mouth when you speak and breathe. 

Your dog may also paw tap you and whine to get your attention, which is a means of alerting you to the problem. Also, you may find that your dog pays a lot more attention to you than usual. 

It is also useful to familiarize yourself with some of the body language your dog may use if it detects breast cancer. Some dogs may seem very subdued around you and place their head in your lap or lie very close to you. Some dogs may pace and circle you because they realize that something is not right and this could agitate them. You may find that your pooch becomes quite depressed around you, with its tail down and a mournful expression. Others may stare at you and even head tilt because they realize something is wrong but they don’t know exactly what. 

Body Language

Signs to watch for if you think your dog may be detecting cancer are:

  • Staring
  • Head Tilting
  • Whining
  • Pacing
  • Sniffing
  • Licking

Other Signs

More things to look out for include:

  • Circling
  • Lying Very Close To You
  • Depressed Behavior
  • Sniffing Around Your Mouth

The History of Dogs Detecting Breast Cancer


Historical research over the years has resulted in a variety of breakthroughs when it comes to cancer diagnosis and treatment. However, the all-important cure for this disease has still not been discovered. Scientists continue to dedicate a huge amount of time to helping to find a cure for cancer but they have also spent time looking at how to improve diagnosis of the disease. 

At present, cancer is often diagnosed when it moves into the latter stages, which means that the chances of successful treatment are reduced. However, the studies that have been undertaken by scientists and experts have also revealed that there could be a solution in the form of dogs.

According to experts, dogs are able to sniff out the smells that are associated with breast cancer and other forms of cancer. These are smells that can be detected by humans, too, and they are present in the urine, blood, and even the breath. 

However, humans cannot detect the smell until the cancer has reached a more advanced stage. Dogs, on the other hand, are able to pick up on the smell even when the cancer is at stage 0, which means that they could become an invaluable part of the breast cancer diagnosis process in years to come. 

The Science of Dogs Smelling Breast Cancer


A dog’s sense of smell is excellent and this is why dogs are able to pick up on so many different things that humans cannot detect. They can even prove to be more accurate than high-tech machinery and equipment when it comes to detecting everything from gas leaks and electricity through to breast cancer. 

This is why our pooches are being touted as the next big thing in the fight against cancer, and their ability to detect cancer early on could help to save many lives. Dogs are already used in the medical industry for a variety of purposes, so this really could be the next development and could mean a breakthrough when it comes to cancer diagnosis. 

Training Dogs to Smell Breast Cancer


There are dogs that are now being trained to detect cancer including breast cancer. These dogs are able to use their sense of smell to pick up on cancer in blood, urine, and in the breath of cancer patients. 

While trained canines are taught how to specifically detect cancer, all dogs, including our untrained household pets, have that same great sense of smell that enables them to pick up on this smell. This means that, in essence, your dog could pick up on breast cancer and could even save your life by doing this at an early stage when treatment can still be effective.

Even if your dog has not received any training whatsoever, its keen sense of smell will enable it to pick up on the smell associated with breast cancer. As such, your dog may start to behave differently around you as a result of the smell that it picks up on. 

If your dog does display those various signs outlined above, you may want to assess your health to determine whether there are any physical signs of an ailment. Some people dismiss the signs from their pooch, thinking that it is just their pet acting up. However, often, your dog is trying to alert you to something or is acting in a particular way because it can detect something.

 If you are at an increased risk of breast cancer due to genetics, lifestyle, or other factors, you should pay careful attention to your health and make sure you check your breasts for signs of any issues regularly. In addition, you should attend for periodic check-ups with your doctor just to ensure that there is nothing afoot. You can even mention the way your dog has been behaving, as this is something that many will pay attention to given the studies that have been carried out into cancer detection by canines. 

Have questions or concerns about your pet?

Chat with a veterinary professional in the Wag! app 24/7.

Get Vet Chat

By a Boston Terrier lover Reno Charlton

Published: 05/22/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

Wag! Specialist
Does your pet have a supplement plan?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews


© 2023 Wag Labs, Inc. All rights reserved.