Pawsitivity Service Dogs has created an emergency research study, the Coronavirus Detection Dog Project, to train medical detection dogs to help detect COVID-19 in both symptomatic and non-symptomatic individuals.
Similar to training for screening for cancer and Parkinson's Disease, these dogs will be trained to sniff out the COVID-19 virus and alert the handlers so that those individuals can be informed. In addition to training the dogs to detect this coronavirus, the dogs can be trained to identify a person with a fever by detecting the increase in temperature of their skin. Once a person is identified, the individual can immediately self-isolate, thus helping stop the spread of the disease. Minnesota is currently planning to distribute tens of thousands of test kits, but the kits require nose/mouth swabbing and laboratory testing. A specially-trained medical detection dog can sniff out hundreds of people per hour. This pioneering study will explore the sensitivity and specificity of the scent of the virus is a precursor for the use of dogs to be a force multiplier in the mission to detect COVID-19. The detection of asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers is particularly needed in hospitals and businesses where testing is most challenging, and the use of these dogs can help to help stop the spread of the disease.
Tom Coleman, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Pawsitivity Service Dogs, says: “In principle, we are certain that dogs could detect the COVID-19 virus. We are now researching how we can safely catch the odor of the coronavirus from patients and then, using the same principles as rewarding for alerting to dangerous blood sugar levels in people with diabetes or alerting to the presence of cancers, train the dogs to alert us to the presence of the virus."
This non-invasive screening procedure can greatly augment current testing kits, and these specially-trained dogs can be especially helpful at the end of the coronavirus pandemic. Fast, non-invasive testing can help prevent the re-emergence of COVID-19 by identifying non-symptomatic carriers quickly and easily. Dogs are uniquely suited to aid in detecting the virus.