Canines offering much more than comfort | health and fitness

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“What is indisputable is that before humans milked cows, herded goats or raised pigs; before they invented agriculture or written language, before they even had permanent homes, humans had dogs in their lives or dogs had humans in theirs,” I wrote at the time. .

Besides being a best friend and companion, dogs have unique traits that we have used through the ages to help and protect us in many ways. Perhaps none superior to their sense of smell. “With up to 300 million scent receptors, dogs are among the best scent detectors in the animal world,” writes a team of forensic and biochemical researchers in an article on TheConversation.com. “The human nose, by comparison, contains only about 6 million olfactory receptors. Dog brains also devote 40% more brain space than humans to analyzing smells.

Beyond their natural instincts, we’ve been able to train dogs to use their sense of smell to detect everything from illegal drugs to agricultural pests to missing people.

“Dogs do this by successfully recognizing odors of substances called volatile organic compounds that are specifically associated with these targets. Not only can trained dogs detect these volatile organic compounds, but they can often do so with greater sensitivity than dogs. analytical instruments,” the researchers explain. This unique sense of smell has also been successfully used to recognize “unique ‘biomarkers’ in the exhaled breath of patients with certain diseases or chronic medical conditions, including the cancer and diabetes, as well as for pre-seizure detection in people with epilepsy”.

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