Dog have a long established history of being able to detect health conditions in people. There are service dogs that are trained to predict or recognize seizures in epileptics to assist in protection and alert. There are dogs that can sniff out cancers of the skin and and internal cancers that result in a change of smell in the urine or blood. There are even dogs that can sniff high or low blood glucose levels to alert diabetics. Is it possible that our canine companions with superhero olfactory senses can be trained to sniff out novel coronavirus?
The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine is trying to find out just that with a new program to see if dogs can detect the current strain of the coronavirus, aka, COVID19. The program is currently training dogs to learn how to identify different smells, beginning with sniffing out an odor successfully to be rewarded with a treat. After a successful first training period, the dogs will then begin to use samples from patients who have tested both positive and negative for COVID-19.
The program aims to identify if there an odor associated with a volatile organic compound associated with COVID-19 and see if the dogs can sniff out the difference. The hope is that the doctors at Penn can successfully then train the dogs to help sniff out the COVID-19 in infected people.
Per the program’s director, Dr. Cynthia Otto, if testing and training is successful, it would not be a replacement for standard COVID-19 testing. She views it as ancillary and complementary, such in scenarios like having employees walk by the dogs as they enter the workplace and the dog would alert if someone was positive.
Primary source for the article was https://abcnews.go.com/
Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms. He is the author of The Man In The White Coat: A Veterinarian’s Tail Of Love. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a globally recognized expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport. He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , general partner of Grant Animal Clinic, and runs the successful veterinary/animal health blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care. Dr. Welton fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.