We know all dogs have a powerful sense of smell. Whether we’ve brought a fresh loaf of bread into the house or carried a rotten bag of food out of it, their nose knows. And, of course, when we return home after sitting in a coffee shop or playing with someone else’s dog (gasp!), they sniff us down and let us know they know.
But some dogs take their sniffing to an entirely different level. Many have been trained to smell cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and even detect when people with diabetes go into hypoglycemia. And now, a Springer Spaniel named Freya who was trained by a charity called Medical Detection Dogs, is in the spotlight for her ability to detect malaria—in 10 seconds—by sniffing a sock worn for one night by a child who has the disease.
Scientists are calling Freya’s 70% accuracy record remarkable as they work to find ways to fight this disease that is spread by mosquitoes and has killed hundreds of thousands of people. There is hope that dogs may be able to help sniff out other infectious diseases, too, and right now dogs are inspiring scientists at MIT who are trying to create an e-nose to replicate their remarkable skill.
So while your pupper may not be sniffing out sickness, it’s important to remember how powerful and gratifying dogs’ sense of smell is to them, and to satisfy it with food and treats that deliver the scents they love like real, WHOLE chicken and chicken liver, wild salmon, sweet potatoes or pumpkin.