Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Bladder Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Dogs May Sniff Out Bladder Cancer

Exceptional Sense of Smell May Allows Dogs to Detect Bladder Cancer

WebMD Health News

Sept. 23, 2004 -- All that time dogs spend sniffing things may have honed their skills as medical detectives. A new British study shows that dogs' exceptional sense of smell may allow them to detect bladder cancer by merely smelling a person's urine.

Researchers say that tumors are thought to produce unstable compounds, which are present in urine and may give off unique scents that are undetectable by humans but may be detected by the average dog.

In their study, a variety of dogs were able to tell the difference between urine from a healthy person or one with bladder cancer with a 41% accuracy rate, which is nearly three times the success rate that would have been expected by chance alone.

"Our study provides the first piece of experimental evidence to show that dogs can detect cancer by olfactory means more successfully than would be expected by chance alone," write researcher Carolyn Willis of Amersham Hospital in Amersham, U.K., and colleagues. "On balance, the results are unambiguous. Dogs can be trained to recognize and flag an unusual smell in the urine of bladder cancer patients."

Researchers say the study also gives weight to anecdotal reports by dog owners that canines may be able to detect subtle differences in scent caused by cancer.

Fido Finds Cancer

In the study, researchers trained six dogs to discriminate between urine from people with bladder cancer and urine from people with other diseases or healthy individuals. The dogs included a variety of breeds (included three Cocker Spaniels, a Labrador, Papillon, and a mutt) and ages; they had no particular skills in scent discrimination.

After training, each dog was presented with a set of seven urine samples, one from a bladder cancer patient placed alongside six other specimens, which where from people without cancer. The dogs identified the sample they considered to be different by lying next to it. This process was repeated eight times.

Researchers found the dogs correctly identified the urine sample of the bladder cancer patients 22 out of 54 times.

Interestingly, researchers found the tiny Papillon performed almost as well as the Cocker Spaniels, which are known for their hunting skills. The mutt performed the worst.

Today on WebMD

bladder cancer x-ray
Do you know the warning signs?
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
Lifestyle Tips for Depression Slideshow
Bladder Sparing Cancer Treatment
Vitamin D
Pets Improve Your Health