2001-Thu Jan 19 01:57:56 MST 2017
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Dogs have a powerful sense of smell, and experts continue to
find ways they can be trained to help with everything from
detecting disease to finding exotic foods.
Recently, the canine detection experts at Auburn University showed that dogs could detect
a specific virus in cows and track down illegally harvested red snapper hidden
on fishing boats on the Gulf Coast.
“If something has an odor — and that’s just about anything
—we can usually direct dogs to detect it,” says Dr. Paul Waggoner of Auburn University’s Canine
Detection Research Institute.
He explains that almost everything has some type of volatile
organic compound — chemicals that emit most scents or odors. The ability to train dogs to find those odors is
usually more limited by a human’s understanding of the compound and how it behaves than a dog's ability to smell it. Trainers have to understand the material and how to control it in order to communicate to the dogs what it is they should do.
Below, we’ve rounded up a sampling of the incredible things
dogs are sniffing out these days, including some of Waggoner's new research and
experiments at Auburn.
You’re probably heard those incredible stories of owners
whose lives may have been saved by their dog, who kept sniffing them and
signaling something was wrong, convincing them to seek medical help.
capability has been put to good use in the last few years in the medical field.
Dogs are being trained to detect several types of cancer by identifying breath
samples from lung and breast cancer patients.
Penn Vet Working Dog Center, dogs are helping to develop a way to identify ovarian cancer in its early stages, when it is often less deadly. The dogs learn the scent of chemicals ovarian cancer emits in tissue and blood. One of the Penn Vet dogs, a
Labrador Retriever, can identify it with 90 percent accuracy. Researchers hope to take what they learn from the dogs and apply it to technology that can be used in hospitals across the country,
reports NBC News.
Assistance dogs have also been trained to alert diabetic owners to dangerously low blood sugar levels and signal the onset of an episode in people with seizure disorders, as well as
smell gluten in products for people with celiac disease so they don’t ingest it and become sick.
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