Dogs can smell changes in breath and sweat that indicate they’re feeling under pressure, study finds

Do you ever feel like your dog knows to come hug you just when you’re starting to feel stressed or depressed? Well, they could!

New research suggests that our furry friends can smell when we’re under pressure by detecting chemical changes in our breath and sweat.

Scientists at Queen’s University Belfast got four dogs, Treo, Fingal, Soot and Winnie, to sniff samples of bodily fluids taken from stressed and relaxed people.

The smart dogs were able to distinguish between the two with 93.75 percent accuracy.

Experts say this discovery could help better train service and therapy dogs to notice when their owner is under pressure.

PhD student Clara Wilson said: “The findings show that we as humans produce different odors through our sweat and breath when we’re stressed and dogs can tell this apart from our odor when we’re relaxed, even if it’s someone else’s. they don’t know.” ‘

New research suggests our furry friends can smell when we're under pressure, through changes in our breathing and sweat (stock image)

New research suggests our furry friends can smell when we’re under pressure, through changes in our breathing and sweat (stock image)

Scientists at Queen's University Belfast asked four dogs - Treo, Fingal, Soot and Winnie - to sniff samples of the body fluids of stressed and relaxed people.

Scientists at Queen's University Belfast asked four dogs - Treo, Fingal, Soot and Winnie - to sniff samples of the body fluids of stressed and relaxed people.

Scientists at Queen’s University Belfast asked four dogs – Treo, Fingal, Soot and Winnie – to sniff samples of the body fluids of stressed and relaxed people.

She added: ‘The research highlights that dogs do not need visual or audio cues to detect human stress.

“This is the first study of its kind and provides evidence that dogs can smell stress from breath and sweat alone, which could be useful when training service dogs and therapy dogs.

“It also helps shed more light on the human-dog relationship and contributes to our understanding of how dogs can interpret and interact with human psychological states.”

As well as being loving companions, humans have also tasked dogs with a number of jobs since their domestication.

These include anticipating anxiety or panic attacks and seeking medication, or guiding their owner home when they have an episode.

In addition, odors emitted by the body are known to be chemical signals that have evolved for communication, mainly within species.

The researchers wanted to see if dogs can detect their owners’ altered psychological states by detecting chemical changes through smell, and not just through visual cues.

The dogs were presented to stressed and relaxed samples of participants whose vital signs had increased and who reported stress from the calculation.  In the image: arm of the device that contained the sweat or breath samples with the lid open (left) and on (right)

The dogs were presented to stressed and relaxed samples of participants whose vital signs had increased and who reported stress from the calculation.  In the image: arm of the device that contained the sweat or breath samples with the lid open (left) and on (right)

The dogs were presented to stressed and relaxed samples of participants whose vital signs had increased and who reported stress from the calculation. In the image: arm of the device that contained the sweat or breath samples with the lid open (left) and on (right)

Each of the four dogs performed their alert behavior to indicate their choice of sample during the experiment.  Top left: Soot (standing looking), Top right: Fingal (standing looking), Bottom left: Winnie (sitting with his nose), Bottom right: Treo (sitting with his nose)

Each of the four dogs performed their alert behavior to indicate their choice of sample during the experiment.  Top left: Soot (standing looking), Top right: Fingal (standing looking), Bottom left: Winnie (sitting with his nose), Bottom right: Treo (sitting with his nose)

Each of the four dogs performed their alert behavior to indicate their choice of sample during the experiment. Top left: Soot (standing looking), Top right: Fingal (standing looking), Bottom left: Winnie (sitting with his nose), Bottom right: Treo (sitting with his nose)

HOW YOUR SWEAT CHANGES WHEN YOU ARE STRESSED

When you are stressed, your body releases more of the hormone cortisol. and can be detected in blood, sweat, saliva, and urine.

Manufactured by our adrenal glands from cholesterol, cortisol performs several essential functions in the human body, including regulating blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and metabolism.

When we find ourselves in stressful situations, cortisol works to ensure that the body directs energy to the brain, heart, and muscles to handle the situation.

Stress sweat is also released from apocrine glands rather than sweat glands, which produce a milkier sweat made up of fatty acids and proteins.

For the study, published today in plus onethe dogs in the study were first trained in how to look for a scent lineup and alert the researchers to the correct sample.

Next, sweat and breath samples were collected from 36 people before and after solving a difficult math problem, four minutes apart.

Their blood pressure and heart rate were measured both before and after the task, and the participants also reported their stress levels.

The dogs were then introduced to the stressed and relaxed samples of participants whose vital signs had increased and who reported stress from the calculation.

They were asked to find the participant’s stressed sample while the same person’s relaxed sample was also on the scent list.

At this stage, the researchers didn’t know if there was an odor difference that the dogs, which were of different breeds and mixes of breeds, could detect.

To their surprise, after a quick investigation, the sniffer pups were able to correctly alert the researchers to each person’s stressed sample 93.75 percent of the time, far more than chance.

This is thought to be because an acute psychological stress response results in physiological processes that alter the odor profile of human breath and sweat.

The authors conclude that dogs can detect an odor associated with the change in organic compounds produced by humans when stressed.

This could have applications for training service dogs with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders that currently respond predominantly to visual cues.

The findings could have applications for training anxiety and PTSD service dogs that currently respond predominantly to visual cues (file image)

The findings could have applications for training anxiety and PTSD service dogs that currently respond predominantly to visual cues (file image)

The findings could have applications for training anxiety and PTSD service dogs that currently respond predominantly to visual cues (file image)

One of the super-sniffing canines in the study was Treo, a two-year-old cocker spaniel.

Her owner, Helen Parks, said: “As the owner of a dog who loves to sniff, we were delighted and curious to see Treo take part in the study.

“We couldn’t wait to hear the results every week when we picked it up.

‘He was always so excited to see the researchers at Queen’s and could find his own way to the lab.

The study made us more aware of a dog’s ability to use its nose to ‘see’ the world.

“We think this study really built on Treo’s ability to sense a change in emotions at home.

“The study reinforced for us that dogs are highly sensitive and intuitive animals and that using what they do best is sniffing.”

Dogs can ‘see’ with their noses: Scientists discover new link between smell and vision in the brain of domestic canines

Dogs may be using their highly sensitive noses to ‘see’ as well as smell, a new study suggests.

Researchers have discovered a “long pathway” in the brain of domestic dogs that links the areas that handle smell and vision.

This allows dogs to have a remarkable sense of direction and awareness, even when they can’t see, which explains how some blind dogs can play fetch.

Dogs’ strong sense of smell can help them detect and distinguish between different objects and obstacles, even if they are blind.

The new study provides the first evidence that dogs’ sense of smell is integrated with their vision and other unique parts of the brain.

read more here

.