Dogs Who Sniff Out Cancer

Many of us have read about dogs who have sniffed cancer in their owners.  Stories about this happening go back decades, and in the last few years, this topic has gotten the attention of research teams and nonprofit organizations.

Using a Dog’s Acute Sense of Smell

Dina Zaphiris, a dog trainer and CEO of the In Situ Foundation, a California nonprofit organization dedicated to training dogs to sniff out cancer.  She believes they can translate dogs’ diagnostic skills into clinically useful, standardized protocols that can be scaled up from study samples to the millions who are screened for cancer each year.  She says that over the last 13 years they have trained their dogs to be 90% accurate in detecting the cancer and not alerting to false positives.  She has used that experience to create a training curriculum that she has copyrighted.  The In Situ Foundatio has begun running cancer detection certification classes for dog trainers.

A Dog’s Superpower

So why would scientists take a chance on an animal that can be unpredictable?  It’s because a dog’s sense of smell is like a superpower.  Dogs have approximately 300 million odor receptors compared with 6 million in humans.  They also have a second smelling apparatus and a large area of their brain devoted to analyzing smells.

The question is, what do we do with the knowledge that dogs can smell cancer?  There are a lot of groups working on this right now.  Most everyone agrees that dogs can smell cancer.  How do we apply this knowledge Eand make it widely available?

Want to Learn More

The  information in this blog was taken from the spring 2017 edition of

*UPDATE: For more current information, watch this facinating video which shows you the latest updates on dogs who are trained to spot cancer. Read an updated article.

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