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In early 1999 published the first online report of dogs identifying disease as in the 1989 case of a dog detecting cancer in a skin mole.


November 7, 2022

Stella Starr, Pet Perspectives


That old article involved working with strangers, not the owner or someone the dog was emotionally close to. It referenced The Lancet, which is some kind of medical journal. I looked it up because a couple of my cats had reacted strangely to my Aunt Ellen when she visited.



The article stressed that the dogs had no attachment or reason to be concerned about a stranger’s health or well-being. My cats are even more indifferent to strangers and I thought it might be Ellen’s cologne or that she had handled another cat but when I remarked on my calico’s behavior, Ellen said no, she wasn’t wearing perfume and she had stopped nowhere.


We had a wonderful week and she out-shopped me! I hope she stays healthy and strong and the cat’s enjoyed a new lap and all the attention but I decided to do some research.


Yes, doctors have noted an animal’s ability to detect disease but most such references were outdated or what my editor calls “catcher sites.” A lot of the cases I found belonged in a comic book but there are still some doctors today who use simple diagnostics before sending patients off to be x-rayed from head to foot!


I learned about a chiropractic technique called Kinesiology which is some kind of muscle testing that indicates a problem. It was interesting but confusing at the same time. Not surprising, a lot of website information seemed to be more about selling a product that about diagnosing one.


Our animals may not be as good at diagnosing disease but I am even more convinced that cats are why they call a CT a catscan! A lot of the “amazing cases” might as well have been in a comic book but verified cases of dogs detecting disease were plentiful.


Getting off Google I went back to for first-hand reports of dogs literally “sniffing out” yet-to-be-diagnosed disease. I also came to the conclusion that part of the problem was that doctor’s offices are just too busy and of course, they are “off-limits” to animals so how would a doctor tumble to the healing power of pets, especially dogs?


I found one article dated June 2009 about the National Institute For Health Creating a Therapeutic and Healing Environment with a Pet but even that esteemed medical authority report on using pets, mostly dogs, as part of a healing therapy program went wherever the DoDo bird went.



Dogs sensing and scenting disease in their owners is still a rather obscure phenomenon in the medical sites. I don’t need to ask my crystal ball why that inexplicable talent seems to be suppressed by diagnosticians and prescription medicine makers. I think the Doubters are mostly medical doctors who have never owned a dog.


I am not into everything my grandparents knew but I do know that they all lived long lives and used herbs. I mentioned that to Ellen and she said that is where all “medicine” came from. Bless her, she didn’t poo poo the animal’s ability to smell or sense disease and then she told me more about healing herbs as learnt from watching the animals. We were on the same page there. I really enjoyed that visit.


Those who actually read the NIH or report (which was widely circulated, must have surmised a dog was simply attracted to a particular scent having nothing to do with disease. Sure. It was the owner’s cologne…


One thing I found interesting was that in February 2021 MIT, using something called gas chromatography and microbial profiling reported “If you analyze the samples from, let’s say, skin cancer and bladder cancer and breast cancer and lung cancer — all things that the dog has been shown to be able to detect — they have nothing in common.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Click to read MIT News Information. EST 2002 © Nov. 2022



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