Can Dogs Sniff Out Coronavirus?

With the demand for more coronavirus testing escalating, researchers are turning to man’s best friend to lend a helping nose!

You might think it a bit strange to think of a dog being trained to sniff out coronavirus, but this is actually not a new idea, as canines have been trained in the early detection of some types of cancer, to alert caregivers when diabetic patients are in trouble and there is even a research project going on to see if dogs can be trained to detect bacterial infections. This important work is being done at the Working Dog Center located at Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

The Working Dog Center is partnering with scientists from Auburn University and Medical Detection Dog UK in the project to teach dogs to sniff out coronavirus. The initial work is with Labrador Retrievers, not only for their ability to pick up scents but for their ability to exert a calming presence when in the midst of people.

This ongoing research is being structured to carefully protect the dogs as well as their handlers from the disease. The advantage to the patient is they don’t have to remove their mask and there is no invasive swab up the nose or down the throat.

Dogs are once again proving they are man’s (and woman’s and children’s!) best friend.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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