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Will dogs help pave the way to normality as we adapt to life with COVID-19?

Will dogs help pave the way to normality as we adapt to life with COVID-19?

Dogs have great noses. In fact, a dog’s sense of smell is estimated to be at least 10,000 times better than humans. And researchers are hoping this could help restore some form of normality as we adapt to living with COVID-19.

Medical detection dogs are already a great asset to some humans living with complex health issues. People with diabetes, for example, can be alerted by their dog when they have rapidly dropping or low blood sugar levels.

Researchers are now looking into whether trained medical detection dogs are able to detect the presence of Coronavirus in breath, body and foot odour samples from adults, who are not currently showing any symptoms or have mild symptoms of the virus.

The study - supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) North West London - is open at sites across the nation, including at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Phase 1 of the study has three main objectives. Firstly, to determine whether trained dogs can identify a distinct odour from asymptomatic and mild symptomatic people with COVID-19. Secondly, to investigate the difference in detection between individual dogs. And thirdly, to compare the odour profiles from asymptomatic and mild symptomatic people.

Samples of exhaled breath odour and skin odour will be collected from up to 16,250 adults, in order to acquire samples from approximately 325 adults infected with the virus and 675 uninfected adults.

If proven to be successful, dogs could be used to screen travellers and commuters at travel hubs and guests at entertainment and other venues. And ultimately help us return to some form of normality as we adapt to living with COVID-19.