Dogs are capable of noticing the slightest of changes in human bodies through scent — and we're just beginning to discover their capabilities. It's estimated that dogs have a sense of smell that is 10,000 to 100,000 times better than ours. James Walker, the former director of the Sensory Research Institute at Florida State University, who's team rigorously tested dog's scenting ability explains, "if you make the analogy to vision, what you and I can see at a third of a mile, a dog could see more than 3,000 miles away and still see as well." Here's an overview of how dogs can be trained to detect and assist with medical conditions. How dogs' sense of smell can assist with medical conditions Dogs are capable of noticing the slightest of changes in human bodies caused by various systems including, hormonal changes and any volatile organic compounds that our bodies release from, for example, cancer cells. The great news is that scientists and dog trainers are leaning more and more about how dogs smell and applying training techniques to sniff out and assist with medical conditions. Assisting with diabetes Dogs can be trained to help people with diabetes realize that they are experiencing blood sugar levels spiking or dropping. Scientists have discovered that human breath has a natural chemical called isoprene that rises notably when a person with type 1 diabetes is going through a period of low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia. With training, dogs can alert their owners and give them time to take their insulin when they see that their blood test confirms the warning as accurate. Detection of cancer Heather Junqueira, researcher at BioScentDx conducted a study titled, "A highly sensitive test for detecting cancer could potentially save thousands of lives and change the way the disease is treated." She present this research at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting during the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting. Junqueira and her team used a a type of clicker training to teach four beagles to distinguish between normal blood serum and samples from patients with malignant lung cancer. Three of the four dogs correctly identified lung cancer samples 96.7 percent of the time and normal samples 97.5 percent of the time. "This work is very exciting because it paves the way for further research along two paths, both of which could lead to new cancer-detection tools," Junqueira explained. "One is using canine scent
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