Dogs provide unconditional love and companionship, make us happy, keep us active, improve our health, provide comfort- the list is truly endless.
In this article, we are going to talk specifically about working dogs, though. Working dogs do all of the above, PLUS help us in other ways they have been trained to. For the purposes of this article, we are discussing how dogs can help us with a virus that has knocked down our world. The Coronavirus.
Dogs Can Detect the Unimaginable
Brave working dogs who are risk their lives to save our lives; sniffing out bombs and conducting search and rescue operations. They're also able to be trained to detect fire accelerators and find illegal substances in airline baggage.
Service dogs and therapy dogs can help the disabled and provide emotional support to people with PTSD, depression, autism, etc. That's insane if you truly think about it. How much has your own dog helped you... even simply cuddling when you aren't feeling well?
Dogs Can 'Smell' Viruses
Dogs have been specially trained to sniff out viruses, and now there is more evidence that dogs can help in the COVID-19 pandemic. Dogs have over 300 million olfactory receptors, which gives them phenomenal sniffiness.
Dogs spend so much time exploring how the neighborhood smells that we can walk for hours before we even think about making a sandwich.
Now, researchers believe dogs can learn to distinguish between odors in humans; which are positive and negative for the virus. Two places are now known to house 'coronavirus doggy detectives:' The University of California, San Diego, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Penn Vet also recently launched a pilot program for sniffer dogs and now expects these dogs to be able to detect the difference between the presence or absence of coronavirus in human blood and animal blood. They started with eight dogs who spent three weeks smelling, and some of the dogs were already trained to sniff out cancer cells as well as other pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.
Through extensive research processes, researchers have documented dogs' ability to distinguish between positive and negative samples of COVID-19. One big hope is that the dogs will be able to distinguish, with high accuracy levels, those who do and do not have the virus.
Advantages of Doggy Detectives in the Coronavirus Pandemic
LSHTM has now started training dogs to sniff out COVID-19 samples in the laboratory. The advantage of dogs over current tests is speed, and researchers at LSHTM believe dogs could potentially assess 250 people in an hour.
Dogs may also notice slight changes in skin temperature and be able to accommodate someone with a fever.
At Penn Vet, the LSHTM team is confident that dogs will be able to detect positive COVID-19 in asymptomatic humans.
Helping with Coronavirus After the Pandemic
Preventing a recurrence of the disease after the end of this pandemic can and will have been of enormous help. Dogs can also help with sightings at entry ports and in public places.
Once again, we can thank our dogs for the role they have played in saving the world from the threat of this deadly disease and its devastating impact on human health.
**Note: Scientists are still in the research phase of this project and, as such, there is not an extensive amount of information available at this time. Canine Companions will continue to keep you updated.**