As we already know, our four-legged family member is our shadow and loyal companion. In some cases, he is our highly intelligent protector as well. If you have a working dog, you may nod and smile in agreement when we say they are almost always “switched on”. Working dogs need a job, whether it be to herd, guide or search and rescue. With endless articles related to animals and COVID-19, we are curious to see the outcome of the latest study, which is fascinating and very necessary in our current climate. It hopes to answer the question in our minds of, “Can my dog smell COVID-19?”. University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinarian Medicine is undergoing a three week trial program using working dogs to potentially sniff out COVID-19 and they have chosen eight gorgeous, hard working Labrador Retrievers to take part in this important study.
While humans have up to six million smell detectors, dogs have up to 300 million, making them a prime candidate for sniff detection. During this trial, dogs will be exposed to the saliva and urine samples of positive COVID-19 cases. “Scent detection dogs can accurately detect low concentrations of volatile organic compounds, otherwise known as VOCs, associated with various diseases such as ovarian cancer, bacterial infections, and nasal tumors. These VOCs are present in human blood, saliva, urine or breath,” said Cynthia Otto, DVM, PhD, professor of Working Dog Sciences and Sports Medicine and director of Penn Vet’s Working Dog Center, in her statement. “The potential impact of these dogs and their capacity to detect COVID-19 could be substantial. This study will harness the dog’s extraordinary ability to support the nation’s COVID-19 surveillance systems, with the goal of reducing community spread.”
If this study is a success, and dogs can smell COVID-19, our four-legged companions will once again prove they are so much more than Man’s Best Friend. We will follow up on this study here as soon as we learn their results.