New Research Has Shown That Service Dogs Can Actually Sniff Out Flashbacks In People With PTSD Before They Even Occur

New Africa - - illustrative purposes only, not the actual person or dog

We don’t really need any more reasons to love dogs, but here is yet another one to add to the list. New research has found that service dogs can sniff out flashbacks in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) before they even happen.

PTSD is a mental health condition that develops when a person has experienced a scary or dangerous event. These traumatic events usually involve situations where someone’s life has been threatened, such as military deployment in a war zone.

Individuals affected by PTSD can repeatedly re-experience their trauma through flashbacks, nightmares, or distressing sensations.

It can make daily life a challenge to manage. Studies have shown that people with PTSD benefit from the companionship of a service dog. These dogs are already trained to help people during episodes of distress. So, it’s not too far-fetched to think that they might be able to predict when an episode will happen.

Since dogs have a sharp sense of smell, they can sniff out the scent profiles of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that humans release through sweat and other bodily secretions. The dogs may be able to detect stress-related changes in VOCs.

A team of researchers enlisted the help of 26 volunteers who had all experienced trauma before, and 54 percent of them suffered from PTSD.

The researchers had the volunteers wear disposable face masks so they could gather breath samples because VOCs are also detectable in breath. They collected one sample from each volunteer when they were in a calm environment and another while they were being asked to recall their trauma.

Then, the scientists brought in 25 dogs to sniff the breath samples. Only two of them, a Red Golden Retriever named Ivy and a German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois mix named Callie, completed the study successfully. They managed to detect breath samples with stress-related and non-stress-related VOCs with up to 90 percent accuracy.

When the samples were presented to them one at a time, Ivy identified the stress-related ones with 74 percent accuracy, while Callie achieved 81 percent. The results indicated that Ivy was better at determining when people were anxious, and Callie was better at sensing feelings of shame.

New Africa – – illustrative purposes only, not the actual person or dog

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