4 min read


Can Dogs Smell Ovarian Cancer?



4 min read


Can Dogs Smell Ovarian Cancer?


The word "cancer" strikes fear into the hearts of most people. Not only is this a devastating disease but it is also one that can creep up on you. Many people do not even realize they have cancer until it is too late and the condition is in its more advanced stages. 

Researchers and scientists have spent years trying to work out ways in which diagnoses of cancer could be made more quickly and easily in order to boost the chances of recovery. One of the things that experts have looked at is the role that dogs could play when it comes to detecting ovarian cancer. 


Signs Your Dog is Sensing Cancer

Dogs have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and this is why they are used in so many different capacities and industries. Our four-legged friends have played a vital role as working dogs over the centuries and even today they are used in many different capacities because of their extraordinary sense of smell. In addition to this, there are dogs that are able to help with various medical conditions and health problems such as migraine alert dogs.

Research has shown that dogs can detect changes in Volatile Organic Compounds, which occur in the initial stages of this cancer. As a result, they can effectively smell ovarian cancer because they are able to smell VOC, also known as odorants. 

If your dog detects this, there may be a variety of ways in which it tries to alert you. It may pay you a lot of attention and keep coming over as though concerned. Your dog may also try to paw tap you to get your attention or it may keep sniffing around you because it senses this change in VOC. 

Some dogs may try to ‘comfort’ you because they sense that there is a problem. Your pooch may keep coming over and laying by you for no apparent reason or keep gently licking at your hands and face. 

A dog’s body language can tell you a lot about what they are feeling and what they can sense. If your dog does detect the smell associated with the early stages of this cancer, it may spend a lot of time following you and pawing at you by way of trying to get your attention. 

Body Language

Some signs to watch for if you think your pooch might be sensing cancer are:

  • Staring
  • Alert
  • Sniffing
  • Paw Raised

Other Signs

<p>More signs to watch for include:</p>

  • Following You
  • Lying Right Next To You
  • Whining
  • Paw Tapping

The History of Cancer-Sniffing Dogs


Over the decades, a massive amount of research has gone into the detection and cure of cancer and even today, scientists continue to dedicate their lives to try and find a way of tackling this dreadful disease.

It is only over recent years that the possibility of using dogs in the fight against cancer has come to light, with some scientific experts carrying out experiments using the blood of ovarian cancer sufferers to determine how easily dogs can detect it compared to the blood of non-cancer patients. The tests that have been carried out over recent years have provided encouraging results and sparked further research.

We all know that the fight against this disease has become a major struggle and many people still die from cancer every year, which includes huge numbers of women that lose their lives to ovarian cancer. It is hoped that that acute sense of smell that dogs have could enable them to play a valuable role in the future when it comes to ovarian cancer detection as well as the detection of other forms of cancer. They could help to ensure that the cancer is detected during the earlier stages, which could help to save many lives. 

The Science of Dogs Smelling Ovarian Cancer


So, what makes dogs the perfect tool for helping to sniff out cancer – literally? Well, it is their remarkable sense of smell that enables them to detect many things that humans cannot pick up on without high tech machinery and equipment. 

Someone that has ovarian cancer and is still in the early stages may not know that they have it for years. However, this means that it is left to fester and by the time the person realizes there is a problem, it has already moved into the later stages. Scientists hope that with the help of canines, this could become a thing of the past. 

Training Dogs to Smell Cancer


Even if your pooch has received no training when it comes to detecting specific smells and odors, you have to remember that it has the same impressive sense of smell that all canines benefit from. This means that your dog may display some of the signs outlined above if it does sense any VOC changes. 

Of course, you cannot assume that every time your pooch behaves a little differently toward you that ovarian cancer is involved. However, familiarizing yourself with some of the behaviors and signs your dog may show is always worthwhile.

If you do notice your dog acting differently toward you – not just for the odd day or two but on a regular basis – it may be worth looking for any signs and symptoms in yourself that could indicate there is a problem. Dogs will often behave totally differently when their sensitive sense of smell leads them to believe that there is something amiss. This is why they have become invaluable in so many different industries where a superb sense of smell can make all the difference. 

You may have noticed the way your dog sniffs around anything new, unusual, or alien to it – this is because their sensitive noses pick up these smells right away. When it comes to training cancer-sniffing dogs, experts familiarize the dogs with the odor of ovarian cancer in the blood and then monitor the dog’s reactions.

Already, there are various facilities where dogs are trained to smell the odor of cancer, which results from these VOC changes in the early stages of the disease. Experts have been working long and hard to create cancer-sniffing dogs and with ongoing training and research, many believe that pooches could actually play a vital role in detecting ovarian and other types of cancer in years to come.

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Written by a Boston Terrier lover Reno Charlton

Veterinary reviewed by:

Published: 04/29/2018, edited: 04/06/2020

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