Let’s imagine that you could walk into a room full of patients and instantly diagnose a disease. Maybe you could if you were a dog.
What do dogs have that you don’t? They have a very powerful nose. Of course you also have a nose, but a dog’s sense of smell is 1000 to 10,000 times stronger than a human’s. This could be the reason that my dog whines every time I take off my tennis shoes.
We have used dogs with their incredible sense of smell for hundreds of years. We use them to track game, find missing people, locate illegal substances, and the list goes on. In fact we may even see dogs use their snouts to assist doctors in the near future. How? Well, it is amazing!
First though, let’s look at the parts that make up this super sniffing machine. Anything that has scent gives off tiny scent particles that enter the air. The first part of a dog’s sense of smell is, of course, it’s nose. A dog can move it’s nostrils individually to find out where the smell is coming from. The particles are brought through the nose and collected on a bony shelf-like structure inside the nasal cavity. Next, the scent or scents travel to the olfactory bulbs which are the smell decoders. From there the signal moves through a stem to the brain’s smell center. The smell center of a dog’s brain is four times larger than a human’s. This is interesting, considering the fact that a dog’s brain is only about one tenth the size of a human’s.
We can see how our canine friends incredible moses work, how they’ve helped us in the past, and how they’re helping us now. What about the future? Could dogs help us in the fight against cancer? Scientists think they can. They believe that dogs have the ability to detect cancer, earlier even, then modern medical technology. How? They’re being trained to smell the chemical changes that take place when someone has cancer. They could also use these specially trained animals to screen large numbers of people for this harmful disease. This means we could take this knowledge to third world countries, where they have little or no modern technology. The earlier doctors can find cancer, the earlier they can treat it.
We can thank the dog and his nose for helping us with all sorts of jobs and tasks. Soon our furry companions may be used to save the lives of cancer patients. M.D. stands for medical doctor, but someday it might also mean medical dog. I think I’ll go find a little doggie lab coat for my pooch, with a hole for his tail, or course.
Get down doc, your nose is wet.