Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Protecting Your Pet: Detecting Diseases
As pet owners, it's our responsibility to keep our furry friends safe and healthy. But little did we know, these animals we love and adore can also take care of us. Here's Marilyn Mitzel with today's protecting your pet.
WSVN -- Rusty, Maggie and Ginger are medical detectives in the making.
They're learning how to sniff out diseases at Florida State University.
It's possible because many illnesses produce distinct body odors.
Jim Walker Ph.D. from FSU Sensory Research Institute: "Any disease where there is any reason to think there are chemical causes coming from the body, it makes sense to investigate if the dog can help the diagnosis."
Since their smell is up to 100,000 times more sensitive than ours, researchers believe one day animals will work side by side with doctors.
Veterinary Researcher Lawrence Myers: "People simply can go into a dermatologist's office and the dog can check them over, instead of waiting for them to notice an abnormally shaped or colored mole."
Animals already alert owners to medical problems.
Susi johnson's cat -- Ichabod knows when her blood sugar is low.
Susi Johnson: "He'll keep nudging me until I get up to check it and sure enough, it's low."
Even while she's sleeping.
Susi: "He would deliberately come over and whap at my face or actually nip at my leg until I got out of bed."
A study in the British Medical Journal found that nearly 70 percent of dogs react when their owners' blood sugar is low.
Service dog trainer Joanie Bussard: "They constantly surprise us with what they can come up with. The anticipation and the true love and devotion that they have to taking care of their person. It's really phenomenal."
So don't be surprised if one day your pets' watchful eyes save your life.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Florida State University Sensory Research Institute
Jim Walker, Ph.D.
Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine
Veterary Researcher Lawrence Myers