UK & World News
How Man's Best Friend Can Detect Disease
The use of dogs in medicine could lead to improved detection rates of disease and a better quality of life for sufferers, according to a charity.
Medical Detection Dogs trains canines to smell the odours that diseases like cancer and diabetes give off in sick patients.
The charity says some of its dogs can now detect disease with 93% accuracy and the organisation regularly receives samples from consultants wanting another way of testing.
Dogs are also being trained to look after sufferers of narcolepsy and for one patient this has changed her life.
Kelly Sears is one of 31,000 narcoleptics in the UK.
She falls asleep without warning in sometimes dangerous places but says that with her specially trained dog Theo, life is much better.
The dog can smell the chemical changes in her body and warn her if she is going to fall.
If she falls, he rushes to her side to wake her up with nudges and licks.
Ms Sears told Sky News: "Before Theo I didn't go out on my own ever.
"With Theo, if I go out shopping with him and I fall, then he'll just nudge and bark until I wake up.
"Other people around me will quite often stop and watch and say to me: 'I didn't want to disturb you as he looked like he knew what he was doing.'"
Dr Claire Guest, chief executive of Medical Detection Dogs, said the use of dogs in medicine is becoming more common.
She said: "It's taken some time to get over the scepticism.
"This is an evidence-based work we've published in a number of journals and it's now proven that disease does have an odour.
"Dogs can be used in a whole variety of ways to warn us when these odours occur."
Dr Guest says some consultants are sending her samples of their patients on a regular basis. She hopes this will become a normal part of disease detection and patient assistance in the future.
"How we've missed this for so long without knowing that there are dogs around us that can do this is quite incredible," she added.
"It's a new, non-invasive way of keeping people safe."
Other organisations like Support Dogs have established the use of canines in helping epileptics, those with autism and physical disabilities.