Can Dogs Smell Cancer?

It’s no secret that dogs have a powerful sense of smell.  While their exceptional vision helps them navigate the world from day to night, their heightened sense of smell brings it all to life.  Smelling is essentially how dogs see the world.

This exceptional ability has been harnessed by humans for a variety of uses throughout history.  From hunting for sport to drug detection in law enforcement and tracking scents, a dog’s sense of smell can go where human limitation cannot. 


Their sense of smell has even proven useful in identifying certain viruses and bacteria in bodily fluids.  Considering this, it is reasonable to assume dogs may in fact be able to diagnose cancer simply by sniffing it out.

The idea is not as far-fetched as one might think.  All life carries a unique signature scent.  Some ailments can even be identified by patients from a distinct scent. 

Cancer is no different.  The secretions of tissue infected with cancer cells give off a specific odor that even some highly sensitive human noses have been able to detect. 

With their super sense of smell, dogs can easily detect the scent signatures of cancer cells through a patient’s skin, breath, sweat, feces or urine.