Answers about C-diff detection dogs

Questions are Good

Answers are Better

Keeping it Simple

Is there EVIDENCE that dogs can reliably detect c-diff?

Yes, we have documented that our dog Finley does indeed find C-diff on surfaces, and several major studies to support the principle can be found here.

What strains does he find?

Finley is very strong at finding 027 positive and 027 negative. It's interesting to note that Finley has an ability to learn to identify other strains.

What is the best use of this resource?

A dog who locates C-diff  is an excellent resource for outbreaks and audits.


Dogs can smell things pretty well and c-diff has a distinctive odour.  It's a detailed training program, you can see a video and overview on this page.

Really? He can 'SEE' c-diff?

Not with his brown eyes, but with his nose. He is trained to tell us when he smells the odour molecules of c-diff, which may look like this representation.

  K9 finds c-diff on elevator K9 finds c-diff in hallway

Why does your dog stick his nose in my purse?

He's not after your money, secrets, or cheese Danish.  He used his nose to find c-diff inside this box.

dog found c-diff in this box

Does the dog screen patients?

No, he does not sniff people, or go into occupied patient rooms.

Why would I take the time to even look at this resource?

Hmmm, maybe you could take 30 seconds to see the answer at this page

How do you confirm / verify?

We take a swab and verify with a handy growth medium from Hardy Diagnostics .  It's temperature sensitive so we use a travel case with 2 dozen vials.

Banana Broth in COLD travel case

How does a hospital find C-diff?

Historically a facility would rely exclusively on surveillance. Today a hospital or LTC Home can use our K9 team to accurately locate the bacteria on surfaces. When you measure it you can do something about it.

How does Ontario compare with the rest of the world?

We're about 12 years behind Europe, 5 years behind BC, and have a long leap over the US.

Will your dog(s) be disruptive or cause harm?

The K9 team won't cause harm. For the long answer covering several concerns is waiting for you here.

How long does it take to sweep a room?

We average 30 minutes for a clinical area.

Its Magic!

No it's not magic or mysterious. It's science.

Can we see a sample?

Yes. At our expense, the team will search a clinical unit with people and equipment normally representing working conditions in which the team is expected to operate. It is recommended that a director and EVS manager witness the team in action.

Does your dog wear booties?

Our dogs don't wear PPE. Our dog has the same chance of acquiring HAI that you do. He stays healthy and we have protocols which minimize risk. An associated question was asked about his introducing new risk. This has been studied by Guelph University and the answer is not likely when following protocols.

Could your dog spread bacteria and germs?

Yes, just like human visitors, but we have protocols to minimize the risk. We do not encourage people to touch the dog. We wash his feet with a portable cleaning device, his harness and leash are bagged for disinfection, and his travel crate is washed.

Do you hold a license from PHAC?

Public Health Ontario asked this question. No, a license is not required because the c-diff we use in training does not contain pathogen or toxin.

Are you affiliated with Vancouver Coastal Health?

No, we are a private federal corporation and not linked or attached to VCH.
We have consulted and visited with their innovative C-diff detection team and appreciate their guidance and articles.

How much does it cost?

We negotiate a modest rate per day. It may work out to less than $100 per clinical unit.

Will staff HH improve?

We don't have proof of a natural short-term improvement in hand hygiene. A significant finding is the the big benefit of in-the-moment engagement with staff. We'll be studying this subject and may have statistical data next year.

Is this a reliable tool for an audit?

If you can measure something, you can understand it. If you can understand it you can improve it. So yes, it's an excellent resource for outbreak response and a series of process audits.

Can I see your records?

We keep several types of database records, all very detailed. The dog's daily training record in an essay style. The search and alert records are in chart style for detailed surveillance reports. And, yes, it's an open book.

Are you dogs certified?

We're working on it. Please see this separate page.

Doing Good Work

Make contact by e-mail or call 705-718=9711