Can Dogs Sense if You’re Sick?


Have you ever noticed that when you’re sick, your dog becomes more affectionate? They may cuddle with you, stay by your side, or lie in bed with you. This behavior is not a coincidence – your dog can actually tell when you’re sick. This is due to their incredible sense of smell and other factors that we will explore below.

Signs of a Dog Knowing You are Sick

When you’re sick, your dog will show certain signs to let you know that they are aware of your condition. They may become extra cuddly and show more love than usual. If you find that your dog always wants to be near you, lay on the bed or couch with you, or place their head in your lap, they are trying to comfort you and let you know they are there for you.

Your dog may also exhibit a calmer behavior in your presence. They may be less demanding of walks and playtime, and they may be less excited during walks. This is because they can sense that you are tired and have lower energy levels than usual. They pick up on your cues and adjust their behavior to try and make you feel better, provide comfort, and reduce your stress levels.

Body Language

Here are some signs you may notice if your dog senses that you are sick:

  • Wagging tail
  • Hugging
  • Whale eye (wide-eyed and showing the whites of their eyes)
  • Sleepiness

Other Signs

Here are some additional signs you may notice if your dog senses that you are sick:

  • They are less energetic and demanding.
  • They stay close to your side.
  • They spend more time laying and cuddling with you.

History of Dogs Sensing People are Sick

Dogs have always had a powerful sense of smell, even when they were wild and undomesticated. They rely on their sense of smell for various purposes, including hunting for food and finding their favorite toys. It is likely that dogs have been able to detect illness in humans for thousands of years, as they can sense the chemical changes in our bodies. Dogs can also detect sickness in other dogs and may try to help them by licking affected areas.

In recent years, science has confirmed that dogs can indeed sense illness in humans and other animals. Dogs are now trained specifically to detect illnesses in humans, including the early stages of cancer.

Science Behind Dogs Sensing When You’re Sick

When a person is sick, there are chemical changes in their body that dogs can detect with their keen sense of smell. They can detect volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that indicate illness, including cancer. Additionally, dogs can pick up on changes in our happiness receptors and hormones, such as serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, which decrease when we are sick. Dogs can also sense our lack of energy and pick up on facial cues that indicate we are not ourselves.

Training Dogs to Sense Sickness

Your family dog does not need training to sense when you are sick, as they can naturally pick up on these subtle changes. However, there are special dogs known as medical detection dogs that are trained to detect more serious illnesses, diseases, and cancers. These dogs go through training similar to bomb or drug-sniffing dogs.

For example, dogs can be trained to sniff out low blood sugar levels in diabetes patients. They are rewarded when they correctly detect this specific scent. In laboratory-based environments, dogs can also be trained to work with blood samples and identify scents that indicate certain types of cancer.

Dogs have the ability to be trained to detect heart attacks, seizures, behavioral changes, and more.

“Your dog’s incredible sense of smell allows them to detect illness before you even realize you’re sick.”

Tips & Things to Know

1️⃣ Your dog’s extra affection and cuddliness may be a sign that they can sense when you are sick. They do this through their amazing sense of smell and by picking up on changes in your behavior and energy levels.
2️⃣ Some signs that your dog may exhibit if they sense you are sick include being calmer, less demanding of walks and playtime, and staying close to your side. They may also exhibit body language cues such as wagging their tail, hugging, and showing sleepiness.
3️⃣ While your family dog can naturally detect when you are sick, some dogs are trained to detect more serious illnesses, diseases, and cancers. These dogs go through specialized training similar to bomb or drug-sniffing dogs and can detect specific scents associated with certain illnesses.

Frequently Asked Questions, Answered ✅

1. How can dogs tell when you are sick?
– Dogs can detect illness through their sense of smell and by picking up on changes in your body’s chemicals and energy levels.

2. What are some signs that your dog senses you are sick?
– Your dog may be more cuddly, calmer, and less demanding of walks and playtime. They may also stay close to your side and cuddle with you more than usual.

3. Why do dogs exhibit these behaviors when their owners are sick?
– Dogs want to comfort and support their owners when they are sick. They adjust their behavior to lower stress levels and provide companionship.

4. Can dogs detect illnesses in other animals?
– Yes, dogs can sense sickness in fellow dog companions as well. They may lick or show attention to a specific area where they sense a sore or scrape.

5. Are there dogs specifically trained to detect illnesses in humans?
– Yes, there are medical detection dogs that are trained to detect serious illnesses, diseases, and cancers. They go through specialized training similar to bomb or drug-sniffing dogs.

Max Kozinskiy
Max Kozinskiy
Max Kozinskiy is a seasoned writer and an enthusiast of dog breed expertise. Having dedicated over 5 years to studying the intricacies of different dog breeds and their unique characteristics. His profound insights and love for our four-legged friends have made him an invaluable part of our team.

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