ToNic-Pics (CC0), Pixabay

Currently, researchers are training dogs to help detect the virus responsible for causing the global pandemic that has rocked our world. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are now working with a group of eight Labrador Retrievers.

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Eventually, they hope to be able to train these dogs to pick up the scent of the virus in a public place. If successful, then the screening of massive numbers of people can happen quickly. Perhaps, this can save both time and lives.

In short, dogs have a long history of using their olfactory sense to pick up on early signs of human disease. Some dogs have detected such illnesses as cancer, hypoglycemia, and seizures before their masters were aware of being ill.

Other dogs have been trained to identify such diseases (and others)

The director of the Working Dog Center at the University of Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine is Cynthia Otto. She informed the Washington Post that viruses emit a specific odor.

An average dog possesses 300 million scent receptors. If these dogs can detect the odor specific to the SARSC0V19 virus, they can play a considerable role in diagnosis. 

Cynthia Otto and a virus sniffing dog
Dr. Otto and one of the dogs being trained to sniff out the pandemic causing virus

Can you imagine how easily dogs could walk through public sniffing out the virus? Likewise, large numbers of people in hospitals, airports, shopping malls, or other businesses could quickly be screened. Since the odor makes the diagnosis of the virus, even those without any symptoms could be detected. 

How Are Dogs Are Being Trained to Help Detect The Virus?

Using a technique known as odor imprinting, the chocolate, black and yellow Labradors will receive three weeks of training. Poncho, Miss M., and six more Labs will undergo this viral-specific training.

In short, the researchers have collected COVID19 + urine or saliva from local hospitals. Each of the eight Labs will sniff the virus samples. Secondly, when the dogs correctly detect the samples, they will receive a food reward. Finally, the study will test dogs for the ability to detect COVID19+ people out of a crowd.

According to one of the project leaders, Otto, they do not know exactly what scent the dogs are detecting. They are not sure if it is the scent of the virus or how human bodies respond to the virus that the dogs detect.

It could even be a combination of the two odors that the dogs pick up. Regardless of what they are sensing, the dogs know there is something different that sets it apart.

Thanks to this source:

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As Wife, Mother of 5, and Nana of many more, I have known and loved many dogs who were treasured members of our family. My education, experiences in showing, breeding, and developing pedigree-based breeding programs for others gives me a strong background upon which to base articles of interest to most dog lovers. However, it is my great love for dogs that gives me the passion to share them with other dog lovers.


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