Dogs Know When Their Humans Are Sick

Dogs Know When Their Humans Are Sick

September 8, 2023

Close,Up,Of,White,Labrador,Dog,At,Vet,Clinic,WithDogs have an uncanny ability to sense and understand their human companions in ways that often leave us in awe. One remarkable example is their ability to detect when their owners are sick. Many pet owners have shared incredible stories of their furry friends displaying an unusual level of concern and affection when they themselves were ill. In this blog post, we will explore the scientific evidence and anecdotal experiences that highlight how dogs have the remarkable ability to know when their humans are sick.

The Power of Scent:

Dogs have an incredibly acute sense of smell, far superior to that of humans. They possess over 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to a mere six million in humans. This heightened sense of smell allows them to detect subtle changes in the scents emitted by their owners’ bodies when they are sick. Numerous studies have shown that dogs can detect specific odors associated with certain illnesses, such as cancer and diabetes. Their ability to detect these scent changes is believed to be due to the volatile organic compounds emitted by the human body when it is unwell.

Changes in Behavior and Body Language:

Aside from their exceptional sense of smell, dogs are also keen observers of their owners’ behavior and body language. When a person is sick, they often exhibit physical and emotional changes, such as lethargy, pain, or sadness. Dogs are highly attuned to these changes and can pick up on subtle cues that indicate something is not right. They may become more attentive, gentle, or protective towards their sick owners. Many pet owners have reported their dogs refusing to leave their side when they are unwell, providing comfort and support during times of illness.

Anecdotal Experiences:

Countless anecdotes from dog owners demonstrate how dogs seem to possess an innate ability to sense illness in their humans. There have been numerous heartwarming stories of dogs alerting their owners when they were about to experience a medical emergency. For instance, some dogs have been known to detect impending seizures or drops in blood sugar levels, providing their owners with crucial warnings. Other stories involve dogs persistently licking or pawing at a particular area on their owner’s body, which later turned out to be a tumor or infection.

Therapy Dogs and Medical Detection:

The remarkable abilities of dogs to detect illness have not gone unnoticed by the medical community. Therapy dogs are often used to provide comfort and support to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices. These dogs seem to have an innate sense of who needs their attention the most. They can often be found laying beside patients who are gravely ill or offering comfort to those struggling with severe pain or anxiety.

In addition to providing emotional support, dogs are also being trained to detect specific medical conditions. For example, some canines have been trained to detect changes in the scent of a person’s breath or urine that indicate certain illnesses. Dogs have shown impressive accuracy in detecting conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and even oncoming epileptic seizures. While more research is needed to fully understand the extent of their abilities, these dogs have the potential to revolutionize early detection and diagnosis in healthcare.

The Bonds Between Dogs and Their Humans:

The deep emotional connection between dogs and their human companions is undeniable. Dogs have evolved alongside humans for thousands of years, forging a unique bond that is built on trust, loyalty, and unconditional love. This bond enables dogs to understand and empathize with their owners at a level that is often beyond our comprehension. Their innate ability to know when their humans are sick is just one of the many extraordinary ways they demonstrate their remarkable understanding of us.


The anecdotal experiences and scientific evidence clearly demonstrate that dogs possess an uncanny ability to know when their humans are sick. Their heightened sense of smell, acute observation skills, and emotional connection allow them to detect subtle changes in scent, behavior, and body language associated with illness. Whether it is by providing comfort and support or alerting their owners to potential medical emergencies, dogs have proven time and again that they are more than just pets – they are trusted companions who truly care for our well-being.

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St. Francisville Animal Hospital has over 34 years of experience! We specialize in all veterinarian services, including but not limited to surgery, examinations, vaccinations, emergencies, and even pet adoptions! We also provide boarding, grooming and a variety of supplies! Here at St. Francisville Animal Hospital, we know how important your animal is and treat them with only the utmost respect and care. Can’t make it to our clinic? We’ll go to you! We are dedicated to proving the best customer experience to our amazing clients! Give us a call today and find out what sets us apart from our competition!

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