Can Dogs Sense Heart Attacks and Seizures?

Social media posts boast a plethora of dog heroes, many who are reported to have saved their owner from near death. But can dogs really sense if their owner may be headed toward a serious health event?

Studies have shown that dogs can sense certain impending events including earthquakes, and yes, even major health issues in their owners. Research suggests that dogs are able to sense a change in the their beloved human companions, not through electromagnetic waves as previously thought but through their extremely well-developed sense of smell. A dogs’ sense of smell is more that ten thousand times more refined than a human’s smelling ability and research points to mounting evidence that dogs use this sense to alert their owner at the onset of a medical emergency.

While undetected by most human noses, dogs are able to detect changes in chemicals released by humans during a  medical emergency. What we don’t understand is how the dog knows that you are in danger, and how they know to sound the alert. Dogs have been known to help by barking to alert the sufferer and to attract help. They typically stay close to their owner to encourage and revive them by licking or nuzzling and will only back down once help has arrived or when their owner is revived.

Dogs are also being studied for their ability to detect certain types of cancer, and research continues in this fascinating field of study. Scientists believe that the chemicals circulating in the body carry distinct smells when invaded by cancer cells. Since dogs have such highly tuned smelling abilities, they were able to distinguish between cancerous and non-cancerous samples over 95% of the time in a study conducted in Fukuoka, Japan.

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