Not for the first time, an article that suggests that dogs can “smell” a melanoma and react to it. A 43 year old women presented to her doctor for evaluation of a mole on her back that had been present since childhood. She described how recently her 2 year old rescue dog had been frequently sniffing the mole and would subsequently get agitated and try to scratch and bite the lesion. A biopsy was taken and proved the lesion to be a melanoma.

Malignant melanocytes found in melanomas release volatile organic compounds that can differ from those released by normal melanocytes that make up normal moles. Volatile organic compounds released at the skin’s surface can be detected by various methods, including canine olfaction; therefore, unusual canine behavior toward skin lesions should not be ignored. If you dog doesn’t like the smell of it your dermatologist may not like the look of it!


Cutis; Cutaneous Medicine for the Practitioner
Sniffing Out Malignant Melanoma: A Case of Canine Olfactory Detection
Cutis 2019 Sep 02;104(03)E4-E6, R Srivastava, JJ John, C Reilly, AM John, BK Rao