Anyone who has walked a dog even once knows how powerful the animal’s sense of smell is. It’s their primary way of exploring and learning about the world around them. It also means they sniff every single fire hydrant, tree, spot of dirt and pup they encounter.
For one dog owner in Buffalo, New York, that powerful nose turned out to be a serious blessing.
Lauren Gauthier’s treeing Walker coonhound’s keen sense of smell alerted the woman to skin cancer on her nose. After her adopted pup, Victoria, fixated on her nose more than once, she went to the doctor.
“She started smelling a specific area of my nose to the extent that she would actually touch her nose to mine where the cancer is and lean back and look at me and smell it again and look at me,” Gauthier recently told “Inside Edition.”
Gauthier adopted Victoria less than a year ago and the dog has no specific training to detect illnesses. In fact, Victoria only has one eye—but that apparently doesn’t hold her nose back! Gauthier’s dermatologist confirmed the pup was on to something: a basal cell carcinoma on her owner’s nose. According to “Inside Edition,” she’s since had surgery to successfully remove the cancer.
Victoria’s find should come as no surprise, as hounds are the superstar sniffers of the dog world.
Doctor’s Best Friend
There have been plenty of instances of dogs detecting and alerting their humans to cancers and other medical conditions.
“The idea that dogs can sniff out and detect different types of cancers is a poorly understood but well-documented phenomenon,” Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, shared with Allure. “There are several cases of dogs actually licking or paying attention to specific lesions on their owners’ skin.”
But how do they do it? It seems dogs are able to sniff out chemicals released by a range of different cancers, including bladder, lung and breast.
This theory is nothing new. Dogs in one 2006 study sniffed out breast and lung cancers, with about 90 percent accuracy, by smelling patients’ breath. Research is ongoing to confirm exactly what chemicals dogs can smell and how doctors can train them to specifically detect certain diseases.
In the meantime, it’s a good idea to follow your dog’s nose.
Has your pup ever sniffed out anything interesting?