Family dog warns parents of daughter’s cancer just days before diagnosis

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  • A family dog stunned its owners by detecting their two-year-old daughter’s cancer, just days before she was diagnosed.

    Paula and Philip Wood, from Brotton in North Yorkshire noticed a change in their dog’s behaviour, especially around their toddler. Just a few days later, Philippa was diagnosed with leukaemia.

    The family appeared on This Morning to talk about how their Border Collie called Bessie would not leave their daughter alone and seemed more on edge than normal.

    ‘I noticed about three or four days before that her behaviour had changed from just being a normal dog about the house, to almost a panic,’ Philip said. ‘The look on her face – her expression had changed and it was look of concern and looking back on it, you could see that she was trying to tell us something was wrong.’

    When Paula had given her daughter some paracetamol for a slight fever, it was the dog’s erratic behaviour that made her mum check again and realise it was something more serious.

    Paula said: ‘Because of her [Bessie] I went and took her temperature again’. It was at this point she noticed Philippa’s temperature was rising and called the emergency doctors.

    It’s not the first mysterious case where a family pet has been able to sense something is wrong with the family. Some scientists now think it could be attributed to dogs’ extraordinary sense of smell.

    Dr Clare Guest from Medical Detection Dogs told hosts Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes that the dog’s superior sense of smell meant Bessie could actually smell Philippa’s cancerous cells.

    ‘What we now know is that cancer smells different,’ Dr Guest said. ‘Cancer cells divide differently and they smell different and dogs can detect this change. What we don’t quite understand is why a dog that lives in the family might know that this is something to warn the family about and that’s really, really interesting.’

    Philippa’s parents said she is still receiving treatment, which is expected to last for two years.

    While on the show, Ruth and Eamonn gave the toddler a huge dolls house as a birthday present as Philippa was turning three the following day.