Tuesday, September 26, 2023


COVID-sniffing dogs: The future of public gatherings?

By Gail Marsh
Yes, you read that headline correctly. As if we didn’t need another reason to love dogs more than we already do, COVID-sniffing dogs are a thing of 2021. Are they here to save the day?

Specially trained sniffer dogs will welcome fans this weekend to Tampa, Florida’s American Airlines Arena. The Miami Heat will play the Sacramento Kings in basketball, and because of the special canine support, many eager fans will be able to enjoy the game in person. These dogs will be positioned at the entrance gates to detect if any fan has COVID-19. The dogs will walk past the line of people as they queue up to enter. If the dog sits down beside a person, it indicates that COVID is detected and the fan will not be able to enter.

Detection and sniffer dogs have sniffed out trouble for years

While the human nose has approximately six million olfactory receptors, dogs have 300 million. And while our brain is amazing in its ability to differentiate between odors, the area of a dog’s brain devoted to smell is 40 percent larger than yours or mine. Man’s (and woman’s) best friend can detect some odors in parts per trillion! No wonder why chicken smells so good…

Law enforcement has used sniffer dogs to identify things like illegal drugs, currency, and even electronic contraband like illicit cell phones. Detection dogs have helped the medical field by indicating cancer, migraines, heart attacks, and problematic issues with diabetics. Specially trained dogs can sniff out toxic mold, peanut dust (dangerous allergen for many), and even bed bugs!

Specially trained COVID-sniffing dogs

For the past several months, dogs have undergone training to sniff out COVID. Study results have determined that COVID-sniffing dogs can identify people infected by the virus before any symptoms appear. A trial at the Helsinki Airport in Finland showed that these trained detection dogs can identify COVID in less than ten seconds with nearly 100 percent accuracy.

So how does this work? What is it about the virus that dogs are able to detect? The coronavirus changes an infected person’s tissue. This change affects the person’s sweat scent signature, which is easily detected by the specially trained dogs.

Could COVID-sniffing dogs be an important tool in our arsenal to fight the spread of this virus? Is the Florida basketball game this weekend a sign of what’s to come? If getting tested for COVID means we’re able to get sniffed by a bunch of adorable pups, we’ll go get tested often…


Help! Can my pet get COVID-19?


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


  1. My last dog, a German Shepherd, would sniff my skin cancer and start whining. Did he know it was cancer? He absolutely knew something was wrong at a spot before a doctor ever diagnosed it. It would often be 4-6 months before even I or a doctor even knew anything was ever wrong in a spot. Dogs are wonderful companions, now if we could only teach them to speak English.

  2. GIVE ME A BREAK! Now we are going to trust a medical diagnosis to a Dog? I love my Dog but we will never be using her as a Physician! This world has just gone deeper and deeper off the deep end!

    • Ed don’t jump here sir. Dogs do detect medical issues. As Glen said, his dog knew he had cancer. My wife’s dog knew there was something wrong way before her diagnosis. They use companion dogs for people who have seizures or other disabilities and warn their owner before it happens. So please don’t dismiss the idea that they can help out. I know the idea sounds crazy, but there is strong evidence that they have incredible abilities.

      • If that were true and provable, they would have taken steps to utilize Dogs and eliminate Doctors from the Hospitals long ago. Because someone says a Dog can detect medical abnormalities, does not make it so. The question I have for you is: How would you tell what a Dog is detecting? Do they react different for Cancer than they do for seizures? These are legitimate questions.

    • Part of the foundation of science is testing the efficacy of a dog’s ability to do these things. It continues to be proven for a variety of scents. Every year we should expect new frontiers and discoveries that will continue to push our beliefs. Imagine being around when someone started talking about the world being round.

    • Seizure-Alert dogs have been around for some time now, I think since the 1990s. Some people you see with a dog may not be blind but have a seizure dog. It is known that dogs can detect cancer and even Parkinson’s along with other changes in human tissues. Google around. It is fascinating, and for those with seizures, life saving. Now my dog, on the other hand, is good for detecting a soft place for a nap – still love her. Dogs have been doing this for decades now. I guess the AMA can’t figure out a way to make money out of using dogs rather than million dollar MRI machines.


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