Pets are known to have a sort of sixth sense for humans and illness. How many stories have you heard about a friend of a friend’s pet alerting them that something might be off with their health? When they finally decide to see a doctor, they have an actual medical ailment.

We’ve all heard the stories and they’re not just old wives’ tales. Dogs especially are very sensitive to changes in their owners and can notice things about us that even we wouldn’t notice right away. When we have an infection or virus we can smell different. Dogs have an incredibly powerful sense of smell and can sniff out that change in us.

Dogs are increasingly being used to assist with cancer detection. For example, a 2019 study reported that dogs could use their olfactory sensitivities to correctly identify blood samples from people with cancer with 97% accuracy.

According to Science Alert, specially trained dogs are currently being tested for use in sniffing out COVID-19 cases. For information on olfactory identification of a variety of conditions, read "6 Medical Conditions that Dogs Can Sniff Out."

Pets are also excellent at picking up on our moods. Chemo signals emitted by the body can change based on our moods and that helps cats and dogs know that something troubling might be going on with us. Do you remember that time you were sad that someone passed away or you got into a fight with a loved one and your dog or cat curled up beside you and gave you extra licks? You likely weren’t just imagining things.  Our pets can smell our emotions!

Our furry family members can also help us to get through illnesses once they’ve been identified. Research has shown for example that pet therapy can have profound benefits during chemotherapy.  Having a pet by your side can decrease feelings of loneliness, promote a sense of well-being, and even reduce the need for pain medications. Certainly, both of Baron’s humans expressed profound benefits from having him with them, from a lessening of fibromyalgia pain for his Mom to a bolstering of the will to live for his Dad who was fighting cancer. "Cancer and the Healing Power of Pets" provides interesting information about the healing power of pets.