The Promise of Disease Detection Dogs in Pandemic Response: Lessons Learned From COVID-19

Cynthia M. Otto, Tara Kirk Sell, Tener Goodwin Veenema, Divya Hosangadi, Rachel A. Vahey, Nancy D. Connell, Lois Privor-Dumm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the lessons learned from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is the utility of an early, flexible, and rapidly deployable disease screening and detection response. The largely uncontrolled spread of the pandemic in the United States exposed a range of planning and implementation shortcomings, which, if they had been in place before the pandemic emerged, may have changed the trajectory. Disease screening by detection dogs show great promise as a noninvasive, efficient, and cost-effective screening method for COVID-19 infection. We explore evidence of their use in infectious and chronic diseases; the training, oversight, and resources required for implementation; and potential uses in various settings. Disease detection dogs may contribute to the current and future public health pandemics; however, further research is needed to extend our knowledge and measurement of their effectiveness and feasibility as a public health intervention tool, and efforts are needed to ensure public and political support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere20
JournalDisaster medicine and public health preparedness
Issue number1
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • COVID-19
  • pandemic
  • policy
  • public health
  • scent detection dogs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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