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Tales from the Pet Clinic

with Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, DACVIM

This blog has been retired. We appreciate all of the insights that Dr. Hohenhaus shared with our readers.


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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dog Noses Put to Good Use

By Ann Hohenhaus, DVM

In a post last week, I wrote about a serious intestinal infection, Clostridium difficile and how a radical treatment similar to one used in cows, sheep, and goats is helping humans.

While researching some information about C. difficile, I found an interesting story of a dog named Cliff who could sniff out patients infected with this deadly bacteria and could do so faster than traditional laboratory testing.

The superior sense of smell possessed by our canine friends is truly amazing. Here’s a small list of what your dog’s nose knows, and it goes all the way to the Supreme Court!


These days all urban areas are having trouble with bedbugs. Ridding your home or office of these pests is expensive and time consuming. Dogs specially trained to sniff out bedbugs come to homes and offices to help exterminators target areas requiring treatment or to give the all-clear sign indicating successful treatment of the environment.

In New York City, Roscoe the bedbug sniffing beagle has celebrity status and is frequently recognized when he is out and about working or when he comes to see his doctors at The Animal Medical Center.


Until recently, service dogs have helped humans with physical disabilities, for example, those who are blind or use a wheelchair. Now, a registered charity in the United Kingdom trains dogs help to manage chronic medical conditions such as diabetes.

These dogs sniff out low or high blood sugar and warn their owners in time for them to have a glass or orange juice or an insulin injection. These dogs can even bring their “patient” essential medical supplies.

Justices to rule on sniffing

Recently, the Supreme Court heard two cases regarding the Fourth Amendment and drug sniffing dogs. The Fourth Amendment states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The case involving Aldo the drug-sniffing dog revolves around whether or not a drug-sniffing dog constitutes probable cause for a vehicle to be searched for drugs. The second case asks the question, “Does a dog sniff indicating the presence of drugs equal a search without a warrant?”

Finally, dogs will have their day in court.


Posted by: Ann Hohenhaus, DVM at 6:21 am

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