iOS app Android app

Posted: 04/11/12 07:58 AM ET  |  Updated: 04/11/12 08:22 AM ET

National Pet Day: Pets That 'Diagnose' Health Problems

Your furry friend can be taught to roll over, fetch, go in her litter box, chirp your favorite song -- but pets can also be trained to detect serious illnesses, often helping their owners get critical care fast.

Unlike Paul The Octopus, the miraculous mollusk that predicted a number of World Cup soccer game outcomes seemingly by ESP, pets probably have some harder evidence to go on. While animal behavior experts still don't know much about the exact process, it's likely that animals "diagnose" by detecting subtle changes in smells given off by chemicals in the body when disease is present.

In honor of National Pet Day, take a look at the life-saving pets below, and tell us in the comments if you've ever had a pet "diagnose" you.

Shirley, The Dog Who Smells Low Blood Sugar
1  of  10
PLAY
FULLSCREEN
ZOOM
SHARE THIS SLIDE 
In February, a yellow lab named Shirley made headlines for sniffing out dangerous dips in the blood sugar of her owner, 4-year-old type 1 diabetic, Rebecca Farrar.

Shirley is the first-ever medical assistance dog to be allowed into a mainstream primary school, according to a video report on MSNBC. Rebecca's blood sugar can drop so fast that Shirley must go everywhere with her, and is even on duty overnight. If Shirley smells a dangerous blood sugar change, she'll alert teachers or family by licking Rebecca.

CORRECTION: Shirley is the first-ever medical assistance dog to be allowed into a mainstream primary school, according to a video report on MSNBC, not a public school.
RATE IT!   |  
VOTE
Impressive.
A true hero!
CURRENT TOP 5 PICK YOUR OWN TOP 5
USERS WHO VOTED
NEW! CREATE YOUR OWN SLIDESHOW

For more on pet health, click here.

FOLLOW GOOD NEWS

Filed by Sarah Klein  |