Do dogs know what is happening with cancer?

Has anybody else noticed a change in their dogs behaviour either before, during or after diagnosis?

I ask this as one of my Siberian Huskies started to get very agitated if I coughed (this was prior to me being diagnosed or having any inkling that I was ill). I had developed a tickling cough and Remy (the Husky) would be clearly uncomfortable when I coughed, moving away then sitting down and fixing me with a stare. When the cough stopped he would immediately come over to me and put his head against my stomach. If I was sitting he would climb up and lie on me with head on my stomach. Anybody else coughing, there was no reaction.

Sadly I outlasted Remy who at the age of fourteen was put to sleep due to old age. But his behaviour has stayed with me and I often wonder if he knew what I did not.

Remy & his mate Snowy, passed before my surgery and I resolved then that to help me recover (well to convince my wife) I needed another dog. We now have Mischa & Loki, both Siberian Huskies pups and both rescued. Loki from Battersea and Misha from the Husky Rescue.

We all walk every day and have done since I was able to after my surgery.

I am delighted to say that neither of them has started staring at me in a strange way so this maybe considered a good sign. I have read about dogs being used to detect cancer now.

Any stories?

10 Replies

  • There have been a number of reports about dogs detecting cancer, and there is a very promising experiment and trial under Prof George Hanna at Imperial College developing a breath test machine that works on the basis of analysing gases that are given off by tumours. A dog's nose is very much more sensitive than the human equivalent. To the extent that some say that scent to a dog is much more stimulating than sight is to us.

  • i believe dogs do detect cancer.mine sniffs around my pelvic area and has a fixed stare which is scary.,

  • our collie never left my side when I was ill, I couldn't even go upstairs to the loo without him sat at the door, , he sat by my bed when I was low with the chemo, in fact he was always with, or very near me , during my recovery we used to go for long walks but he would never leave my side , I'm sure he was a big aid in me getting better, alas he developed kidney disease and we did all we could for him but we finally had to have him put to sleep , we now have got a collie x lab pup and although he is a handful at the moment I'm sure he will carry on where the old.

    collie Dylan left off. just looking at a canvas print of the old boy and it still brings a tear to my eyes .

  • I can't says my dogs showed any interest in my condition but two years before I was diagnosed I had a session with a medium. She told me many things but one thing I do remember was that she thought I may have a problem with my chest area. At the time I had been to the Docs with what seemed like an angina attack so presumed that was what she had picked up. Only thought about this experience some time after surgery and treatment.

  • Dogs are very tuned in with their owners and can detect a change in behaviour earlier then we can ourselves.

    Mine will come and sit with me about half an hour before the dumping syndrome kicks in, we had her after my diagnosis of cancer so cannot say if would have picked up the cancer.

    There are dogs being trialled to see if they can pick up on cancer, believed to be by smell so the breath test machine is being developed, very exciting news in the research for early diagnosis.

  • Towards the end of last year they ran quite a few news stories about dogs being able to pick up Prostrate cancer - a number of trials being done. This would be so much better than the biopsy that is carried out if your PSA levels are high (which my husband undertook last year - but all was well) but not a pleasant procedure.

  • there have been so many cases of misdiagnosis (not necessarily of oesophageal cancer)as eg IBS possibly from inconclusive scans,i think doctors should consider that dogs know when their owners are ill and can pick up on cancers and there have been instances of family dogs warning of epileptic fits ,children becoming ill etc,

  • Personally I think if the specialist dogs can be trained and proved to be reliable,it would be a wonderful thing,but our domestic mutts I am not so sure I would have so much confidence in,tho wouldn't that be nice. Most dogs sniff around anyone's crutch area ( even the most sweet smelling ones!) given the chance- Gp's would be inundated with people convinced they had cancer around that area!

  • My lab Sam would not put his nose near my Osophagus I noticed this after diagnosis but after opperation he would

    I really believe some dogs know

    By the way my wife whitnesed this

    Steve w

  • Interestingly my friends small dog (jack russell) seemed very interested in my stomach and was sitting on my lap sniffing my stomach just before I was diagnosed with cancer. I believe they use dogs for certain types of cancer detection and the NHS have even run trials.

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