Can Dogs Smell Breast Cancer?

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Introduction

Like other forms of this deadly disease, breast cancer can be incredibly difficult to diagnose at the early stages. The first time that a woman realizes that there is something amiss is generally when there is an abnormality such as an obvious lump in the breast. 

For many years, scientists and medics have been trying to find that elusive breakthrough in the diagnosis of cancer. When it comes to breast cancer, some believe that one recent breakthrough could be the use of dogs. According to recent research, some dogs can actually detect breast cancer from the smell, which means that they could play a huge part in the early diagnosis of this condition in the future.

Signs Your Dog May Smell Breast Cancer

When a dog comes across the smell of breast cancer, you may notice a range of signs. Dogs have very sensitive noses and they can pick up on all sorts of smells that we would never detect. Even if you have cut your finger, your dog will be able to smell it and will sniff around the area where you have injured yourself. 

Trained dogs are able to pick up on the smell of breast cancer through urine and even your breath – this is at an early stage. What’s more, they can do it at an earlier stage, which could make a big difference when it comes to timely diagnosis and treatment.

If your dog smells breast cancer, you may notice that it is sniffing at the air around your mouth when you breathe and talk. Your dog may also spend time sniffing at your body. Other signs include paw tapping to get your attention, looking alert and head tilting, putting its head in your lap while looking up at you, lying next to you far more than usual, and whining. Many of these signs are ones that show your dog wants to get your attention because it senses there is something amiss. 

You should look out for body language signs that your dog may display if it smells breast cancer. Sniffing you and the air around you is one key sign, particularly when the dog sniffs the air around your mouth. Also, if your dog is snuggling up with you far more than usual, this could be another sign. 

Trained dogs were found to lie down next to breast cancer samples after detecting the smell. Bear in mind that your dog may also try to get your attention through its body language such as tapping you with its paw continuously or sitting right next to you and tilting its head. 

Body Language

Signs that your dog may be detecting the smells of breast cancer include:

  • Staring
  • Head tilting
  • Whining
  • Sniffing
  • Paw raised

Other Signs

More cues that your dog will give if the can smell breast cancer are:

  • More subdued behavior
  • Nudging at you
  • Lying next to you more than usual

History Behind Dogs and Smell Detection

Throughout history, dogs have been used in various lines of work as a result of their excellent sense of smell. Many industries have come to rely on dogs to sniff out and detect things that the human sense of smell would not be able to detect early on. In fact, in many industries, dogs have been touted as being more successful at detecting certain smells at an early stage than high tech equipment. 

This is something that is now being claimed by some experts in the field of breast cancer and other forms of cancer. Some believe that, from the studies carried out so far, dogs are able to detect breast cancer from stage 0 through to stage 4.

For many decades, scientists and researchers have been trying to find a breakthrough in relation to cancer diagnosis and treatment. While some success has been enjoyed over the years, it is still notoriously difficult to diagnose this condition. 

Often, it does not get discovered until the later stages when treatment is difficult or impossible. It is now hoped that dogs can play a big part in the success of breast cancer diagnosis, with facilities already training pooches to recognize the smell of breast cancer. 

Science Behind Dogs Smelling Breast Cancer

According to medics, when a patient reaches stage 3 or 4 of cancer, it can sometimes be smelt on their breath. However, with dogs, evidence suggests that they can smell it from stage 0, which is obviously far earlier than humans are able to detect it. 

This could make a huge difference when it comes to diagnosing breast cancer in time to administer treatment or surgery and, ultimately, it could help to save lives. Even some dogs that have never been trained – pet dogs – have been known to ‘sniff out’ breast cancer in their owners, thus possibly saving their lives. 

Taking the Signs Seriously

Dogs are trained to detect a wide variety of things, including hormonal changes and illness, through their sense of smell. Some dogs are trained to pick up on migraines, others on seizures, and now, dogs are being trained to detect breast cancer. 

However, while some dogs receive specialized training to do this, it does not mean that untrained dogs cannot also detect the smell. If your pooch starts acting strangely around you and indicates that there is something wrong, it is well worth paying attention because some pet dogs have already been known to pick up on this sort of thing.

Of course, it can be difficult to determine what your dog is referring to if it does start acting out of sorts when around you. Dogs are able to pick up on a wide range of issues in relation to health and sometimes the behavior and signs they display can be in relation to something completely different rather than a health issue that they detect in you.

Therefore, if your dog starts displaying the above signs, you wouldn’t automatically think it must be something to do with breast cancer. However, if you check your breasts on a regular basis – as all women should – and you pick up on something that is not quite right, and then you also notice your dog behaving oddly around you, this may be the time to get it checked out.

If you notice your dog is showing some of the signs outlined above, such as sniffing the air around you, make sure you pay careful attention to key areas of your health including checking your breasts when in the bath or shower. While your dog may not necessarily be indicating you have breast cancer, there is always that chance and it is well worth paying attention to what your dog may be trying to tell you. 

How to React to Your Dog Smelling Breast Cancer:

  • See if your dog shows signs such as sniffing the air when you talk.
  • Take note if your dog acts strangely around you.
  • Check your breasts regularly.
  • See your doctor if there are concerns.