With the symphony of sneezes and concert of coughs seemingly surrounding us where ever we go, it really seems like everyone is sick this time of year. And when we eventually fall victim to the bug making its way through the office or our kid’s school, there’s usually one family member who notices first: our dog.
Even if we try to deny that we are feeling under the weather, our pooches always know what’s really going on. They usually become more attentive, following us around everywhere and snuggling up to us at every opportunity. But how do they know we’re sick in the first place? According to Katelyn Schutz, a certified dog trainer at Wisconsin Pet Care, it’s all about their super-strong sniffers.
“When a person is ill, their body chemistry will change, and a dog’s sensitive snout may be able to detect these subtle changes, letting them know we are sick,” Schutz explains. Although we might not notice any difference in our body odor — because it’s so slight or because our noses are stuffed up — there’s no hiding it from our dogs. It’s also what makes pups so perfect for sniffing out more serious issues, like cancer. “Often with 90 percent or more accuracy, the trained nose of a dog can smell lung cancer on someone’s breath, pinpoint the location of a mammary tumor, or detect bladder or prostate cancer from someone’s urine,” Schutz says.
Our four-legged friends are also highly observant when it comes to our behavior. They can tell when a cold has knocked our energy levels down just by picking up on something as small as the fact that we aren’t smiling as often. And, of course, because they’re such sweethearts, they’ll want to do everything they can to make us feel better ASAP. Most dog owners will tell you a cuddle with their pup when they’re under the weather is more comforting than any bowl of chicken noodle soup.
The next time you try to soldier through a cold or tell yourself you’re not really coming down with something, pay attention to how much your dog is hovering around you. The sooner you give into getting some rest (with your cute nap partner next to you), the sooner you’ll feel better!