Can dogs detect heart attacks?

Okay, I’ll admit: I’m reading that bastion of credibility, the National Enquirer. There’s an article about dogs that no one wanted, and how one has become a drug-sniffer, etc.

However, this little bit from the article threw me for a loop:


How is that possible? Can a dog REALLY sense when a heart attack is coming? And suppose the house contains more than one person. Can the dog differentiate? And how does the dog communicate this? Not every dog is Lassie, and not everyone would know that Timmy fell down the well, metaphorically speaking.

I confess that I’m not as up-to-date on dog studies as I probably should be, but I’ve never heard of anything like this.

My cardiologist, Dr. Spot, has agreed to answer this question.

Although this dog doesn’t seem to “sense” the heart attack, it seems to have been trained to notice the onset of one in it’s master.

bad link

I am certain beyond most probability that a dog can sense a heart attack, provided it is the dogs heart going haywire.

I’m pretty sure my dog can, as she’s never said anything and I haven’t had a heart attack.

The enquirer is not so far off here. Dogs can detect changes in people’s bio-chemistry by scent.

A medical journal type television show recently explained how a dog is helping a young girl cope with epileptic attacks. The dog smells a change in the girl’s bio-chemistry and growls a certain way. When the owner’s hear the dog, they get ready, including putting a helmet on the girl, and taking appropriate medications.

Yes, Dr. Spot tells me that cardiac arrest and epileptic seizure smell vaguely similar…

“A little bit like burnt toast with a hint of okra and lilacs.”

Just as a point of interest, cw, that was the same guy and dog I was referring to in my article.

As Ficer67 mentioned dogs are indeed used to detect things such as imminent seizures. I do not know if it scent or very subtle body cues the dog picks up on but they do notice it before the person themself is aware. I saw one lady who was liberated by this. Previously she could not leave her house for fear of having a seizure and causing herself who knows what sort of injury (falling down, etc.). Now she can roam about and her dog lets her know a few minutes before a seizure allowing the woman to take precautions (sitting/lying down, finding help, etc.).

Given that I would say a dog might be able to sense a heart attack. Of course, the dog somehow has to know that this ‘new’ vibe it is getting from its owner is something to be worried about and let the person know. Of course the person likely has no clue why Rover is going nuts all of a sudden. To add to that I do not think (I am not a doctor though) that all heart attacks are created equal. That is, they occur for different reason with the onset being faster or slower in different circumstances. If that is the case a dog might be able to sense it in some instances and miss it in others. That’s just a WAG (pun intended) though.

Here is another article on the subject:

And for those strange people who don’t like dogs…


Not very sure I want my underwer to be making phone calls all by itself…hmm - nah - dog soudns more fun.


Rrrrrrrrffffffff. RRRRRRRRRRRRfff. AARRRRRooooo. Give me two aspirins and 50 mgs of metoprolol. And a bowl of water. Maybe a juicy, steak, too. A nice thick one without too many bones. Hey, is that a cat I smell?