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Do Dogs Know When You Are Sick?

February 17, 2023 | 3 min read

Updated February 17, 2023

By Sarah Milton

Published: February 20, 2023 

Summary: In this blog, we’ll discover if dogs can tell if you’re sick and what dogs do if they know you are unwell... 


Have you ever been laid up in bed or on the couch with a foul cold and had your pup come and nestle in beside you or rest their head on you? Perhaps an even more serious illness has occurred in your life or within your family and the dog's behavior has changed or become more attentive around that person... 

Some pregnant people also report that their pet’s behavior changed when they became pregnant – some claim their dog even knew before they did!  

So, can dogs tell when you’re sick or if your body is changing or different?  

Do Dogs Know When You Are Sick? 

Yes, dogs can tell when you’re sick. But what’s more interesting is how they can tell! 

They Can Smell It 

Dogs experience the world very differently from humans – their sense of smell is up to 10,000x more powerful than ours and they can hear higher-pitched noises than us.  

Our human body gives off different scents depending on our health status and every human being gives off a unique scent too – even identical twins give off different smells. So, if your body changes your scent will too, so that’s usually how dogs can tell if you’re sick, or even pregnant. Your mood can even change how you smell as well! 

Some dogs are even trained to become alert dogs because of this incredible sniffing ability. For example, some dogs can tell when someone living with seizures is about to have one because their body’s state - and thus scent - changes before the physical fit happens. The dog can indicate to their owner a seizure is about to take place and the person can get themselves to somewhere safe to have the seizure in a more controlled way.  

One study in London, UK found that dogs could detect the pandemic virus Covid-19 in a person in under a second!

two dogs rest on a woman’s belly and thighs. The brown terrier rests on their front across her stomach and the other is a black and white whippet-like dog lying on their back between her legs looking at the camera. Both pups wear blue bandanas around their neck

They Can Read Body Language 

Dogs are creatures of habit and thrive off a daily routine. If your routine changes because you are sick, your dog will know something’s up. They may seem agitated and confused, and that’s probably because they are worried about why things aren’t happening at the usual time combined with a shift in what they can smell.   

They Can Hear It 

Dogs can hear changes in your voice and read your facial expressions so if you’re feeling under the weather your dog will respond to this, especially if you sound different or read differently.  

What Do Dogs Do When They Know You Are Sick? 

A dog’s reaction to their owner being sick will vary from dog to dog. Some may become quite stressed and seek comfort from their owner, and some may attempt to comfort them by cuddling or resting alongside them. Some may even suddenly become the guard dog and attempt to protect you from any harm while you’re not feeling yourself!  

What’s worth noting is that if you like the behavior they adopt in any way, rewarding them with praise and healthy treats will help them learn to repeat this behavior in the future.


Author Gibeault, Stephanie MSc, CPDT “Does My Dog Know If I’m Sick?” American Kennel Club, Nov 03. 2022  

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Sarah Milton

Authored By

Sarah Milton

Comes from a family of animal lovers and got to grow up with a menagerie of pets! I believe owning a pet is a privilege and I love researching and creating informative, fun content for fellow pet owners to help their furry friends have the happiest and healthiest lives. When I’m not writing blogs, you can find me sharing a walk with my pet dachshund or at a yoga class!




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The information contained within this site is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice. PetLab Co. is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your pet has, or you suspect your pet has any medical condition, you are urged to consult your veterinarian. Medical conditions can only be diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Results May Vary. Not intended for human consumption. Please consult your veterinarian regarding any change in treatment or supplementation.
*In Amazon Pet Health Category in 2022