Will dogs once again prove to be man’s best friend during the COVID-19 public health emergency?

nose, close-up

Sharon Hamilton MS, RN, CFDS
Clinical Consultant, Briggs Healthcare

The next time you look down at that cold wet nose think about this, dogs have up to 300 million sensory receptors in their nose compared to about six million in a human nose. That means they can analyze scents approximately 40 times greater than a human.

For thousands of years, a dog’s nose was its key to survival and within recent history that incredible talent has become a key to human survival too.  Trained to sniff out medical conditions such as certain cancers, bacterial infections and nasal tumors, once again man’s best friend is being trained to help in the fight against COVID-19.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine are working with dogs to see if they can detect the virus. The pilot study will begin by exposing 8 dogs to body secretions that are positive for the coronavirus. The objective is to train the dogs to identify the odor of the virus through a process called odor imprinting. The next step is to document their ability to distinguish between COVID-19 positive and COVID-19 negative samples. Initially, the training will take place in a laboratory. If the finds are promising these dogs could be used to support a human diagnostic surveillance system with the goal to reduce community spread.

To learn more about this initiative click on the link below and don’t forget to hug your dog today:

https://www.vet.upenn.edu/about/press-room/press-releases/article/penn-vet-launches-covid-19-canine-scent-detection-study