Lisa Holt introduced scent training to her dog training business about 5 years ago. A couple of years ago Nancy Jones, one of her scent training clients, approached her about training dogs to detect Parkinson’s after reading about a former nurse in Scotland who determined that Parkinson’s patients had a “distinctive, musty scent.”
Last year, they organized a program to train dogs to smell sebum, which is secreted through the skin around the head and neck of people with Parkinson’s.
So far, the results look promising: Holt told KING 5 that after approximately “8500 tests with 9 dogs over the past 16 months resulted in a success rate of 85 to 95 percent.”
This could be a potentially game changing milestone in treating Parkinson’s because currently, by the time a doctor diagnoses someone with the disease he/she cannot offer any effective treatment. KING 5 said that if dogs can be used for early detection it would “provide an opportunity for doctors to add years, maybe decades of quality time to patients’ lives.”
Jones, whose husband has Parkinson’s, said “If those dogs could detect the disease long before you had a symptom it could be a miracle.”
You can learn more about this groundbreaking work check out this article in the San Juan Island Update.
You can also follow the program’s progress on the Parkinson’s Canine Detection Prpject’s Facebook page.