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Welcome to PADs for Parkinson's


PADs was the first program of its kind anywhere to train dogs to detect an odor associated with Parkinson's Disease. In May of 2023, the Program that originated on San Juan Island in Washington State was adopted and rehomed within the National Veterinary Research and Science Institute in Alfort, France. You can now follow the PADs Program here, and for all of you who have supported the dogs of PADs at home in the States, merci beaucoup.


Searching for the odor of Parkinson's Disease.

In 2015, it was reported and verified by researchers that a former nurse in Scotland could smell an odor unique to Parkinson's Disease. Since a human can detect such an odor, it's no surprise that a dog can easily do the same.

PADs has been training dogs for detection of Parkinson's Disease since March, 2016.  


Since the discovery of the woman in Scotland who could smell Parkinson's Disease, PADs has trained more than 25 dogs to successfully select Parkinson's samples from healthy human control samples with an accuracy rating of 90% or higher. The dogs attend training four days per week and are homed locally by their owner/handlers. The nonprofit program is staffed by a director of canine detection and a host of volunteers. In 2017, PADs became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission to train dogs to detect Parkinson's Disease.


Since there is no definitive laboratory diagnosis yet available for  Parkinson’s Disease, the dogs may be able to provide an important contribution to the search for a cause or a cure. If the dogs can be proven to help with early detection of Parkinson’s Disease, this could lead to an extended active lifestyle for those afflicted with Parkinson’s, since detection prior to tremor stage provides the greatest hope for slowing progression of the disease.



Meet the many passionate, expert, and dedicated people who stand behind PADs.

PADs for Parkinson's is made possible by a dedicated group of caring, expert individuals and 18 amazing dogs. On a daily basis, PADs is supported by an eight-member Board of Directors, 15 canine handlers, seven ongoing volunteer training assistants, and an experienced, certified detection trainer. Additionally, PADs is supported by more than 150 individuals with Parkinson's Disease who provide samples, and an equal number of healthy people who provide control samples. Countless hands, paws, brains and wet noses, all work tirelessly together to train dogs to detect Parkinson's Disease. 



Meet the Dogs of PADs


A dog’s sense of smell is up to 100,000 more acute than that of a human’s. Dogs can detect tiny amounts of odor - around one part per trillion. This means dogs can detect a teaspoon of sugar in a million gallons of water; or two Olympic-sized pools. A dog can detect one rotten piece of apple within two million barrels. When making an analogy to human vision, what you can see at 1/3 mile away, a dog could see at more than 3,000 miles away, just as clearly.

Since March 2016, PADs has trained more than 25 dogs to successfully select Parkinson's samples from healthy human control samples with an accuracy rating of 90% or higher. The 18 dogs currently in the Program attend training between two and four days per week and are homed locally by their owner/handlers. Each PAD (Parkinson's Alert Dog) has worked between 35 and 400 individual days and has received between 350 and 3000 exposures to Parkinson's Disease samples.


PADs is represented by a variety of breeds and mixed breeds of dog, ranging from American and English Labrador Retrievers to a Pomeranian. Any dog with a high drive for work and problem-solving can be successful as a PAD.


What is Parkinson's Disease?

Neurotransmitters is how the cells in your body communicate. Your brain uses neurotransmitters to tell your body how to move. In Parkinson’s Disease, neurons that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine die off in the basal ganglia, an area of the brain that controls body movement. As more and more of these dopaminergic neurons are destroyed, the brain can no longer control the body because the brain can no longer communicate with the body. This results in people shaking and jerking in spasms. As the disease progresses, people have less and less control over their bodily functions until they can no longer breathe or swallow.


Today, the dogs in PADs provide valuable information to research scientists by helping to narrow the search for a biomarker for Parkinson’s Disease. The PADs also supply data information for clinical trial testing by providing PD odor detection feedback as participants are periodically tested for their response to a drug or therapeutic program. Both areas of research supply clues to the cause of Parkinson’s.


Finding the cause to Parkinson’s is the first step to finding the cure.


See how PADs is making an impact

The PADs program has been covered extensively in the media by KIRO 7 news and CBS affiliates, along with King-5 and NBC affiliates, Parkinson’s Life, The American Parkinson’s Disease Association, Good News Network, and local San Juan Island media. And now you have heard of us too! Thank you for your interest in PADs.

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