Medical Detection and Alert Dogs use their incredible noses to sense bio-chemical changes in your body. Every change has an attached smell. If we can isolate that smell, we can train your dog to detect it, alert you to its presence and help you reduce the effects of whatever condition is causing it.
Dogs live by their nose. If there is something sending off particles of scent, a dog will smell it. Every biochemical change in your body changes your overall scent and especially the scent in your breath.
A dog can detect changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and perspiration, by smelling it. A dog's sense of smell is so sensitive, it can smell a teaspoon of vitamin C in a thousand gallons of water, Dogs are even being trained currently to detect whale poop from shore or from a boat. What we're doing in this training is picking the odor we want them to detect and showing them that it is immensely rewarding to do so and how to tell us that they found that scent.
We believe that all diseases and disorders have scent associated with the diseases, due to the changes occurring within the body, with different organs expressing different chemical compounds. These scents are evident in breath, urine and sweat.
In much of medical alert training, recognizing the exactness of a scent is particularly important. With diabetic alert, many trained dogs will start alerting on other people's sugar levels. Apparently the scent of high or low blood sugar is similar enough between people that a trained dog can detect it in anyone, even if the person's blood sugar is only low because they haven't eaten in too long and don't have diabetes.
In scent work, targetting is more then just "finding" the scent. Targeting is about touching it, really smelling it newly each time, noticing what is around the scent and narrowing into where the source of the scent is. Targeting is also about staying with the scent even if it's moving until the human says "thank you" - the beginnings of a persistant alert.
All of these dogs do medical alert of some sort except the Great Dane Devon