If dogs are man’s best friends, can they be their doctors, too? Of course not! Doctors have highly specialized skills to examine, detect, assess, monitor, and treat medical conditions. But do you know that a dog can at least do one thing that a doctor does? Yes. It can detect illnesses, at least a few of them.
Dogs have always been considered as a man’s best friend because of their loyalty and the fun they bring to their master. Their playful disposition can also drive stress away. But aside from that, dogs have saved lives many times over. They sniff bombs that could have perished the lives of many. They are also used in detecting drugs that can damage lives and in many cases, they lead the way when finding and recovering dead corpses. Indeed, dogs are more than what we think.
But what really makes our canine friends so good at their assigned tasks above? Compare to humans who have six million olfactory nerves, dogs have 300,000 million of them with a sense of smell that can be 100,000 times more than what humans can smell. This ability of dogs is now being used to sniff and detect the following diseases in humans:
Diabetes is one of the diseases where dogs are currently used. They can detect when blood sugar levels whether are very high levels or they reached rock bottom. When there will be super sniffer dogs, the cost of managing diabetes may soon dwindle down and instances of late treatment can be prevented.
This most common cancer in men may not show any symptom until it is in its advanced stage. Early detection is the key to the treatment of the disease. With disease sniffing dogs, many men could be saved from this life-threatening cancer.
There may be a steady decrease of malaria over the years, but it is still a reality to some in tropical areas. This mosquito-caused disease can cause one’s life when it is not treated early. By sniffing socks, disease-sniffing Labradors can tell whether an individual has contacted the disease even before symptoms are seen in patients.
Dogs are now in training to sniff breast cancer. Should it be successful, more women’s lives will be saved from this killer cancer as it will surely allow more screenings of women.
Sniffer dogs react when there is a seizure. But is not yet verified if the dogs’ reactions occur before the seizure starts or when the seizure is already happening. Even then, a dog’s reaction may still be useful as a swift reaction for caregivers to prevent one undergoing seizure from hitting the ground.
This brain condition affects the ability to control the sleep-wake cycle. It can pose many dangers to one suffering from it, especially when he falls asleep while doing some activities like walking. Dogs trained to detect when one is going through an attack are called narcolepsy service dogs. These dogs can forewarn a narcoleptic five minutes before an attack. This may be enough time to look for safer grounds.
Some dogs are now being used to warn individuals of an impending migraine attack. Migraine may not be life-threatening but with severe and continuous pain that can last for many days, this condition can be debilitating. A sniffer dog can detect an impending migraine five days before the attack.
Even an ordinary dog that did not go through training may be able to detect that we are stressed out. Some service dogs are now being used to detect stress although it is still unknown whether they smell adrenalin or cortisol which are usually released when a human being is under a stressful situation.
This is a brain disorder that is characterized by shaking, stiffness, walking difficulties, imbalance, and incoordination. More men are predisposed to the disease and the usual onset is 60 years old. In an actual experience, a dog was able to sniff a change of odor of a man six years before the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease emerged. This sparked researches on how to train dogs to sniff this mental disorder before the ugly manifestations start to show.
Anxiety and Depression
Our dogs will also know if we are depressed or having anxiety attacks and it may be easier for service dogs to even detect it. It is helpful as medicines or other management programs can be done almost immediately.
When more dogs will be trained to sniff these diseases and that they will be available for many of us, there may be a few cases when delivery of treatment is late. While sniffer dogs are being used now in some cases, it may still be a future development to many as they are not yet readily available. If only our pets can be trained so easily, we will have a pet, a friend, and a doctor in one, at least for forewarning us of an impending attack from our existing medical condition.