I have always found it amazing how a furry four-legged creature could captivate a person’s heart in a way no human could. They are our comfort in troubling times, our playmates, and a warm body to snuggle up to. What if your pet, specifically your dog, was also a cancer detector? A woman, Victoria Tice, says that her poodle detected a melanoma on her face which she had thought was just a mole.

Victoria wasn’t a stranger to abnormal lesions on her skin and had previously had a non-cancerous mole removed. Since then she had always taken the proper precautions to prevent such a thing from happening again. It wasn’t until her 7-year-old poodle, Basil, started acting strangely that she became concerned about the mole on her face. He began to lick and bite the mole repeatedly, often waking her up in the middle of the night.

Her doctor and dermatologist told her it wasn’t melanoma because at first glance it didn’t have any of the ABCDE characteristics of skin cancer. She persisted  and they eventually found it be cancerous. Victoria then underwent surgery to have it removed. She has been thankful and in awe of Basil ever since!

Victoria’s experience is so far-fetched. There is research that suggests dogs can identify a unique odor associated with cancer. A study published in the British Medical Journal in 2004 provided the first proof that dogs could smell cancer. Cancer cells release small amounts of volatile substances (odor) that some dogs can be trained to detect. Take into account the value of dogs for physical health in humans and it makes sense that they could “prevent us from becoming ill, facilitate our recovery from ill-health, and even serve as an early warning system for certain types of underlying ailment including cancer, oncoming seizures and hypoglycemia.”  There is a non-profit called Medical Detection Dogs based out of the UK that understands the importance of a canine to human relationship when it comes to supporting a person’s health. They recruit dogs to train them to be cancer detecting companions and medical assistance dogs.

This is unrelated to cancer, but my family had a Great Dane (pictured below) that sensed a couple of tremors when we lived in California. He would pace around, become irritable and wouldn’t come out of my daughter’s room until it had come and passed. It is amazing the sixth sense that dogs have. Do you have an experience when your dog knew something before you did? Please share in the comments below! 



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