PADs for Parkinson’s is a unique, great program where dogs are being trained to detect Parkinson’s disease! I have always been interested in how dogs are trained to detect illnesses, whether it’s sniffing out specific cancers or COVID-19. Their sense of smell is insane, and I’d often joke that if Barnaby, my dog, sniffs me and looks concerned, I’ll be worried. Fingers crossed, it hasn’t happened yet. Anyhow, I wanted to learn more about how the dogs were chosen for disease detection, how they were trained and how accurate they are. About a week or two ago, I read an article about how dogs were being trained to sniff out Parkinson’s Disease, stumbled across the PADs for Parkinson’s page and reached out. The director of the program kindly wrote me back and put me in touch with a naturopathic doctor, Dr. Mandy Gulla, whose dog, Piglet, is in the program. ( I was able to meet Piglet over Zoom, and can say that he is super adorable.) We were able to record a podcast and now I’m sharing it with you all.
The PADs for Parkinson’ program is the first program of its kind in North America that teaches dogs how to detect an odor associated with Parkinson’s Disease. In the podcast, Dr. Gulla will provide an overview of Parkinson’s Disease, talk about a dog’s sense of smell and how good it is, and discuss when they first discovered an odor associated with Parkinson’s Disease. She will discuss how the program trains the dogs to detect the odor, their accuracy rate, more specifics about the dogs that join the program, the importance of early detection and the overall goals of the program.
Dr. Gulla is a holistic physician and founder and medical director of the Living Medical Arts Center that serves the San Juan Islands. In the episode, she also talks a little about her work and the San Juan Islands, which sound like a lovely place to visit.
Thanks for reading and hopefully you’ll listen too. In addition to PADs for Parkinson’s, I also recently posted a podcast on human health in space. That deals with the question of, despite all the excitement, our ability to live on Mars one day. Will our physiology allow it? You can check out that episode here.
Listen to the PADs for Parkinson’s episode here!