Why your dog really can tell if you are sick

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Image credit: Wall Street Journal

I was sick last week, and as [my Chihuahua] Midge was glued to my side, friends told me about their own pets attending to them around the clock.

According to researchers who study canine cognition, it’s usually not just pet owners’ imagination. Pups really do know when their humans are having a rough time, and they use a rich variety of signals to figure it out. Not only can your pet tell when you have the sniffles, but domestic dogs have shown an aptitude for detecting both much more minute mood fluctuations and far more serious physical conditions.

“Dogs are preternaturally sensitive to changes in their people,” says Alexandra Horowitz, the head of the Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab at Barnard College. “If a person is infected with a virus or bacteria, they will smell different.” Some illnesses change a person’s odor so profoundly that even other people can notice it, but dogs are able to smell changes in their people that would escape human senses.

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Beyond common seasonal illnesses, some dogs have also shown the ability to accurately detect malaria, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Read full, original post: How Your Dog Knows When You’re Sick

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