Does My Pet Know When I Am Sick?

By now you or someone close to you has probably come down with a winter to spring transition sickness.  When my mom was recently sick, she said our Miniature Schnauzer, Risgby, wouldn’t leave her side.  It often leads you to wonder, “does my pet know when I am sick?”  I know my own cats seem to be extra cuddly when I’m under the weather. And the truth is, yes, our pets do know when we are sick and here’s why.

Their Amazing Olfactory

 Inside our noses is the olfactory system which gives us our sense of smell.  However, some dog breeds have such a strong olfactory, it’s can be up to 100,000 times more powerful than our human noses.  Our pets live in a world where their sense of smell defines most of their interactions. They can smell things that we can’t even imagine and they can also smell animals that were in the yard hours after they’ve gone. So, it’s no surprise that they can smell the chemical changes in our bodies when we get sick or sad.  

The Serious Illness Sniffer

 This miraculous ability goes even further than just the average flu or cold.  Dogs can even sniff out serious illness by detecting the Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that our bodies omit when we are sick or take medicines. Multiple studies have been done that show dogs have an uncanny ability to locate cancer; either by a person’s breath, urine, or even on their skin. Some breeds can even use their sense of smell to help alert their owners of imminent seizures if they have epilepsy, changes in blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Body Language: Sniffers aside, your pet is also extremely aware of your body language. Micro Expressions show on our faces when we are angry, sad, grieving, and happy. Even though you may not be aware of it, our pets see them and they pay attention to those cues.  That’s why they may give you an extra snuggle or lick when you’re upset or sick.

If your pet is constantly sniffing a certain part of your body, then it may be worth mentioning to your doctor.  There’s no harm in checking it out, because with a sniffer as powerful as that should be taken seriously. Our pets are truly incredible companions and they can tell us all sorts of wondrous things about the world around us from their unique point of view. 



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