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We’ve all heard stories about how dogs have been trained to sniff out different kinds of cancers and alert humans with potentially dangerous medical conditions like diabetes and epilepsy. Yes, dogs do have sensitive noses, but how exactly are they trained to detect certain health conditions in people? National Geographic looked into this unique area of science and came up with some fascinating answers.
Diabetic alert dogs are trained (through the use of rewards) to detect the scent of low blood sugar, using the saliva of diabetic people. It’s thought that they smell a particular chemical compound that is present in the bodies of diabetics.
Cancer detection dogs are trained using blood samples of people with particular types of cancer. The cancers that can be detected by dogs include ovarian, prostate, colon, and skin cancer.
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What other types of human illnesses can dogs sniff out? They can also be trained to be infection-alert dogs, able to sniff out bacteria in urine and alert people to different types of infections. This is especially important for people with spinal cord injuries who cannot feel the pain associated with things like urinary tract infections.
You can read the full story on the National Geographic website!