Drug-sniffing dogs can detect thousands of odors that are beyond the human nose. However, some substances like xanax make it difficult for dogs to smell them. The alert threshold varies from dog to dog and is based on the individual animal’s ability to detect a specific substance.

It has little to do with the breed or size of the dog, but more with their training, experience and innate ability. Dogs have approximately 220 million olfactory receptors compared to humans who only have about 5 million. Therefore, drug-sniffing dogs can detect odors that humans cannot.

Read on to learn more about how drug-sniffing dogs work and if they can smell xanax.

How do drug dogs work?

Drug-sniffing dogs use their sense of smell to sniff out illegal substances. Most drug dogs are trained to detect marijuana, heroin and cocaine. Some can also detect meth and ecstasy.

When a dog is trained to sniff out drugs, they are rewarded with treats. When they find the scent they are looking for, they will be given a treat. This will condition the dog to only search for the smell when they smell the scent of the treat.

You may have seen dogs being trained to sniff out drugs in airports. When a drug dog finds the scent of drugs, they will sit down and alert their handler. The handler will then confiscate the substance.

Can dogs smell weed?

Yes, dogs can smell weed. In fact, marijuana is one of the substances that most drug-sniffing dogs are trained to detect.

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When marijuana is burned, the smoke contains very distinct scents that can be easily detected by dogs.

If marijuana is in its original, unburned form, dogs will likely not be able to smell it. This is because the scents in unburned marijuana are different from the scents in the smoke.

Dog’s sense of smell is thousands of times better than ours, so they can detect very small amounts of marijuana in the air.
If a dog smells marijuana on your person, they may sit down next to you and alert their handler.

How do drug dogs find drugs?

The short answer is dogs sniff out drugs. The long answer is dogs sniff out the specific scents of drugs.

Dogs have very sensitive noses that can detect scents that are beyond our human ability to smell. This is why dogs are often used to sniff out bombs, drugs and even scents related to criminal investigations like a person’s fingerprints.

When a dog sniffs out a specific scent, they are actually drawing air up through their nostrils and into their olfactory system. The olfactory system runs directly into the dog’s brain.

The olfactory system is made up of millions of receptor cells. These cells are extremely sensitive to scents. This is how dogs can detect a vast array of odors.

Can dogs smell cocaine?

Yes, dogs can smell cocaine. Cocaine is another one of the substances that most drug-sniffing dogs are trained to detect.

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that is derived from the leaves of the coca plant. When cocaine is broken down in the body, it becomes benzoylecgonine. This is the specific scent that dogs are trained to detect.

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When a dog sniffs out benzoylecgonine, they will alert their handler.
Cocaine is a relatively easy drug for dogs to sniff out. This is because it has a distinct scent that dogs can easily recognize.

Can dogs smell heroin?

Yes, dogs can smell heroin. Heroin is another one of the substances that most drug-sniffing dogs are trained to detect.

Heroin is an opioid drug that is derived from the seeds of the opium plant. When heroin is broken down in the body, it becomes 6-monoacetylmorphine. This is the specific scent that dogs are trained to detect.

When a dog sniffs out 6-monoacetylmorphine, they will alert their handler.
Heroin is a relatively easy drug for dogs to sniff out. This is because it has a distinct scent that dogs can easily recognize.

Can dogs smell meth?

Yes, dogs can smell meth. Meth is another one of the substances that most drug-sniffing dogs are trained to detect.

Meth is a stimulant drug that is made by mixing ingredients like ammonia, drain cleaner, lithium and various other chemicals. When meth is broken down in the body, it becomes methamphetamine. This is the specific scent that dogs are trained to detect.

When a dog sniffs out methamphetamine, they will alert their handler.
Methamphetamine is relatively easy for dogs to sniff out because it has a distinct scent that dogs can easily recognize.

Can dogs smell marijuana?

Yes, dogs can smell marijuana. Marijuana is another one of the substances that most drug-sniffing dogs are trained to detect.

When marijuana is broken down in the body, it becomes THC-COOH. This is the specific scent that dogs are trained to detect.

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When a dog sniffs out THC-COOH, they will alert their handler.
Marijuana is relatively easy for dogs to sniff out because it has a distinct scent that dogs can easily recognize.

Can dogs smell ephedrine?

Yes, dogs can smell ephedrine. Ephedrine is another one of the substances that most drug-sniffing dogs are trained to detect.

Ephedrine is a stimulant drug that is derived from the leaves of the ephedra plant. When ephedrine is broken down in the body, it becomes ephedrine. This is the specific scent that dogs are trained to detect.

When a dog sniffs out ephedrine, they will alert their handler.
Ephedrine is relatively easy for dogs to sniff out because it has a distinct scent that dogs can easily recognize.

Can dogs smell ecstasy?


Yes, dogs can smell ecstasy. Ecstasy is another one of the substances that most drug-sniffing dogs are trained to detect.

When ecstasy is broken down in the body, it becomes 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methamphetamine. This is the specific scent that dogs are trained to detect.

When a dog sniffs out 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methamphetamine, they will alert their handler.

Ecstasy is relatively easy for dogs to sniff out because it has a distinct scent that dogs can easily recognize.

Bottom line

Dogs have an extremely sensitive sense of smell that allows them to sniff out drugs and other scents. Drugs are often broken down into compounds that dogs can easily smell.

These compounds may be easier for dogs to detect because they are much stronger than the drug itself.

However, some substances like xanax make it difficult for dogs to smell them. The alert threshold varies from dog to dog and is based on the individual animal’s ability to detect a specific substance.


David Warren
Author

David Warren is a pharmaceutical specialist that dispenses prescription medication on a daily basis. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy from the University of Tennessee in 1991. With over 50 publications on medication-related and pharmacy topics, David has been able to share his experiences and knowledge with others. David with lots of experience and knowledge in medications that are utilized to treat a wide range of medical conditions. Before David dispenses a medication to a patient, he will go over the side effects, dosage recommendation and contraindications.