It varies from one dog to another and how they have been trained. Some dogs stick close to their owners when they smell illness. Some get nervous or stressed out. They’ll race around the room and show behavior he doesn’t normally exhibit.
One dog owner states that her dog is extremely clingy with her husband, who doesn’t live with them. He only comes over for weekends due to his epilepsy. Her dog sticks to her husband and runs back and forth between her and her husband like he is trying to say something. He is on watch and extremely nosy. He sits near the husband and wants him to take the medicines.
Another dog owner states that he has a heart problem. One day when his heart rate increased, his dog jumped on the bed and pressed his face against his chest. He stayed there until the heart rate got normal.
Signs that your dog is Smelling Illness
One cannot generalize the signs a dog will show by smelling illness. However, most pet experts and vets have pointed out the following signs.
- Most dogs will raise their snoot and tilt their heads.
- Some dogs will stay in an alert position but still relaxed. They don’t sense danger but stay alert to help the sick.
- Dogs are relaxed around sick people and try to guard them.
- Dogs raise their tail but don’t wag it when they sniff sickness around in humans.
- Some dogs may look at you and start barking. They may also start whining and licking you.
Medical Conditions Dogs can Sniff
- Low Blood Sugar
- Fear and Stress
Why do Dogs Smell Sickness?
Dogs are known for their sniffing power. They have almost 220 million sense receptors and can detect smell 10,000 to 100,000 times more than humans. Isn’t it incredible? They also have advanced olfactory receptors and bulbs; these receptors help dogs recognize different odors, even if they are present in tiny concentrations.
The olfactory bulbs in dogs are 30 times bigger than in humans. Hence, they can easily guess if anyone around them is sick.
People suffering from bacterial, viral or fatal diseases possess certain odors. These odors are so negligible that humans can’t sniff them, no matter how much they try. On the other hand, dogs can pick the smell from far away.
This is the reason why wild dogs don’t prey on ill animals. Moreover, dogs living in packs may also kill a fellow ill dog if they fear the illness is contagious and can spread to the rest of the pack.
Dogs in Medical Service
The super-powerful sniffing power and their helping nature (owed to their ability to get trained) have made them human companions in medical service. Many dogs are trained to alert their owners a couple of hours before a seizure can happen. They do it because they can sense a drop in blood pressure.
Some dogs have been trained to alert owners if the sugar level rises. Many dogs have been trained to help people live normal life with limited movement or some dependability. You can see dogs trained to help people with allergies, autism, guide dogs for blind and low vision people, and hearing dogs.
The latest example of dogs detecting diseases is the Covid-19 pandemic. Dogs were trained to recognize the previously unknown smell of Covid patients, and then they could distinguish their urine samples of Covid-19 patients. The trials conducted at the University of Helsinki proved that dogs’ results were almost as reliable as a PCR test.