Can dogs really smell COVID-19?

Dogs can detect one drop of odorous material in a 10.5 Olympic-sized swimming pool
An undated image of a scent dog.—Hepper
An undated image of a scent dog.—Hepper

Having to buy a self-test kit to diagnose COVID-19 or getting it done by a clinic in an urgency, primarily when one needs to travel and the inspection is mandatory, was no less than an adversity people are found to be hating.

But the era has long walked past such woes as a research has unearthed that dogs can more accurately detect the deadly virus in your body than the clinical diagnoses, but with a little training is a prerequisite.

“It went from four papers to 29 peer-reviewed studies — that includes more than 400 scientists from over 30 countries and 31,000 samples,” Tommy Dickey, the co-author of the study said.

With other studies suggesting that one third of their brains is devoted to process smells, dogs’ smelling sense undoubtedly outclass that of us human, whereas in humans, only 5% of the brain is devoted for this purpose.

Dickey said that “they can give you the 'yes' or 'no' within seconds, if they're directly smelling you,” while the trained dog may may also swiftly sniff a person and then sit to convey a signal that they have scented COVID-19 in you.

The authors of the study claimed that the “beagles, basset hounds, and coonhounds are the best breeds of scent dogs for this task.”

Along with that, dogs have hundreds of times more olfactory receptors–molecules that detect air-borne odour– than humans, who have only 5-6 million of them.

Surprisingly, these canines possess an impressive ability of detecting one drop of odorous substance in a pool of water which is ten times the size of an Olympic pool.

The researchers’ concluding remarks were: “Perhaps, most importantly, we argue that the impressive international quality and quantity of COVID scent dog research described in our paper for the first time, demonstrates that medical scent dogs are finally ready for a host of mainstream medical applications.”