In The News: Training Dogs to Sniff Out Covid-19

In The News: Training Dogs to Sniff Out Covid-19

For years dogs have been used for their exceptional sense of smell to locate drugs, weapons and explosives. Now science is honing in on that skill to sniff out Covid-19.

How a Dog’s Nose Works

It’s a fascinating fact that dogs have been used for many years to smell diseases like cancer, diabetes and even if someone is about to have a seizure. This is accomplished by the approximately 300 million scent receptors in dogs’ noses. This incredible sense of smell lets dogs view the world around them, for their eyesight is not as clear as a human’s. To put this in perspective, Alexandra Horowitz, a Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College, found that a dog can smell just a teaspoon of sugar within a million gallons of water. That’s roughly the size of two Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Disease Has a Smell

Does disease have a smell? Possibly. Science researchers have theorized that a human body when sick releases VOCs or specific volatile organic compounds, that give off scented gases. Humans cannot detect such smells, but dogs can. Dogs around the world are being trained to detect Covid-19 in countries including France, Finland and Russia. Materials mixed with the sweat, salvia and other bodily fluids of infected individuals are the tools being used to help dogs pick up the scent of Covid-19.


Studies are showing promising results that dogs may have the capability to sniff out false-negative Covid-19 test results. In the trial, dogs were able to correctly identify false-negative tests repeatedly. This could serve incredibly helpful in the race to contain the virus.

We’d Love to Meet Fido

Here at Sunset Veterinary Clinic, our veterinarians and staff understand how much your four-legged patients mean to you. The same respect, love and care you know from your own doctor, we show to our furry patients. We believe in preventing diseases before they occur, to keep your pets well and enjoying a long life. Feel free to email us at [email protected] or give us a call at (405) 844-2888. Sunset Veterinary Clinic would love to serve you and your pets.

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