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Front Vet Sci. 2016 Jun 24;3:47. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2016.00047. eCollection 2016.

Canine Detection of the Volatilome: A Review of Implications for Pathogen and Disease Detection.

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Canine Performance Sciences Program, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University , Auburn, AL , USA.
Center for Translational Research in Aging and Longevity, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences , Little Rock, AR , USA.
Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University , Auburn, AL , USA.


The volatilome is the entire set of volatile organic compounds (VOC) produced by an organism. The accumulation of VOC inside and outside of the body reflects the unique metabolic state of an organism. Scientists are developing technologies to non-invasively detect VOC for the purposes of medical diagnosis, therapeutic monitoring, disease outbreak containment, and disease prevention. Detection dogs are proven to be a valuable real-time mobile detection technology for the detection of VOC related to explosives, narcotics, humans, and many other targets of interests. Little is known about what dogs are detecting when searching for biological targets. It is important to understand where biological VOC originates and how dogs might be able to detect biological targets. This review paper discusses the recent scientific literature involving VOC analysis and postulates potential biological targets for canine detection. Dogs have shown their ability to detect pathogen and disease-specific VOC. Future research will determine if dogs can be employed operationally in hospitals, on borders, in underserved areas, on farms, and in other operational environments to give real-time feedback on the presence of a biological target.


canine detection; disease detection; volatile organic compound; volatilome

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