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Can Pets Sense or Smell Illness in Humans?

Do You Believe Pets Can Sense Your Sickness?

We all agree that pets cheer us up when we're feeling sad, but can they also tell when we're ill?!

Beamish, this Rottweiler, did just that when his increased attention to a mole convinced Chris Tuffrey to get it checked out. The pooch kept nuzzling, licking, and trying to lift his owner's arm and it turns out the mole was a melanoma . . . and needed to be removed.

There have been other cases and claims in which animals have reacted differently around illness and evidence that they can detect cancer, predict epileptic seizures, and more. What do you think – would unusual behavior from your dog cause you to visit a doc?


Join The Conversation
LoveSarah LoveSarah 8 years
I just got over being really, really sick and my cat stayed by my side the whole time. It was really sweet, and he made it easier for me to fall asleep because he is cuddly. :)
Isista Isista 8 years
I also think it depends on the dog. If I'm sick but I have to go over to someone's house and they have pets, they don't seem to notice. But if I'm sick at home (or even just upset), both my puppies will come and nose my face and watch me, generally choosing to lay under my feet by the couch. I think it matters that they have been with me for so long.
amofoz amofoz 8 years
Hmm, maybe it depends on the dog because when I had my appendicitis and was recovering at home, my dog was her usual normal self: loud, hyper, jumped on my stomach (ow). LOL I love her but I thought she would sense I was sick and would be more gentle.
lazybones101 lazybones101 8 years
Is it any wonder pets mean so much to us. Seriously, we are all looking for a connectedness with someone,(something). Pets give us that.
wren1 wren1 8 years
My doggie always seems to know if I'm feeling down, be it emotional or physical. He's such a wonderful snuggle bunny about it. I love him!!
ladyr ladyr 8 years
Thanks lawchick! I love my puppies!
CoronaLove CoronaLove 8 years
My last pup was not the type to ever lick your face. When I had my wisdom teeth pulled and I was lying in bed she would jump on my bed while I was sleeping and start licking my cheeks non stop. I thought it was really sweet that she knew I was in pain even with the pain killers. :)
lawchick lawchick 8 years
ladyr awww that picture is sweet!
Aphrosette Aphrosette 8 years
Certainly!!!! They are very good at it, and when I am sick my two hyper little dogs calm down tremendously. They want to be near me and sleep (which is good b/c when I am sick all I want to do is sleep!!) Its funny b/c as soon as my husband will come home they will be hyper to play with him for a little and then right back at my side sleeping with me. And my dogs ARE NOT sleepers!!!! They are still hyper hyper hyper!!
ohkate ohkate 8 years
my mother-in-law's non-profit is based partially off that belief and was recently part of a Discovery Channel feature about pets healing abilities as well as featured in the health section of the Washington Post recently. I definitely believe that pets can sense when somethings wrong be it sickness, sadness, or something along those lines.
ladyr ladyr 8 years
Here is my Tara being my little caretaker when I was sick one time: I believe dogs are sensitive to our moods, and that they can also detect physical abnormalities. It has been proven that dogs with good sniffers can be trained to determine normal cells from caner cells. Also, I saw a special about a dog who could predict its owner's seizures a few minutes before they happened so that she would have enough time to sit down and be safe while having her seizure. I'm sure that is not the only case of a dog that can do this. Perhaps they can smell the change is body chemistry.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
The cats are always way sweeter and more cuddly to me when I'm not feeling well, and when my arm was broken both of them were noticeably careful around it, instead of walking all over me as usual. So yes.
kscincotta kscincotta 8 years
When my mom had cancer last year, my cats followed her around everywhere, especially right after her surgery. I even have a picture of one of them laying across mom in a full body hug as if to say "I will love you back to health". My dog also parks herself right next to my husband or me whenever we're sick. So yes, I totally buy that they know when something's not right.
shinycrazy shinycrazy 8 years
My mother has Lupus (an auto-immune disease) and is diabetic. When she is having a bad day, the family toy poodle Angel, is right by her side. As a child, I remember that our first poodle Layla was also sensitive to anyone in the household that was sick. She would snuggle and lay next to the person in question. I wholeheartedly believe that they some how sense our change in demeanor or some other clue that leads extra attention.
kelsea1102 kelsea1102 8 years
When I went to college, I took my beloved dog, Jose, with me. It was very difficult to be sick and not have anyone (like Mom) to comfort me. I had a stomach bug and was leaning over my bed into a trashcan. Jose was lying in bed with me and when he saw I was sick, he crawled over and began to paw at my back, almost rubbing me, like my Mom would have done if she were there. Jose knew I was sick and knew how to comfort me perfectly.
melizzle melizzle 8 years
Yep! Last time I had surgery, my pup knew to be gentle and just spent days at my feet napping.
TsuKata TsuKata 8 years
When I had surgery (minor/outpatient...gall bladder removal) and was at home recovering, I was initially afraid my cat would pounce on my sore tummy and lay there like he normally does. But, he was exceptionally gentle and cautious around that area, without me saying anything. Sure, there are visual cues for that sort of thing, but that our pets act on the cues is still amazing.
Mykie7 Mykie7 8 years
While they may not know that it's ILLNESS, animals are definitely in tune to our moods. When we don't feel well we aren't as effervescent as we might be otherwise, and the pets sense that so they mellow out too.
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
When my dad had is heart attack several years ago, I came home from the hospital to get my mom some clothes and get a few things for my dad. I came in and couldn't find the dog. He was laying in my parents bed on my dad's pillow... and he totally knows he's not allowed on the bed. He knew something had happened to my dad. Ever since then, I have never doubted animals are super sensitive to things like that.
honeyhoney77 honeyhoney77 8 years
Though my cat has never detected a disease she is notably more senstive to me if i'm feeling under the weather =) It's pretty sweet. On the other hand, when my dad had cancer, the family dog would not leave his side. I definitely believe that animals are sensitive to what is going on with us.
kiwitwist kiwitwist 8 years
I think so... they have amazing senses.
BloodyFuFu BloodyFuFu 8 years
When I am sick the dog and cat both have to stay with me all day. Usually when I'm at home for just a day off they just do their own thing. I think they can tell when I'm sick, if not just from me being miserable.
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