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Louie, a Mastiff cross Staffordshire Bull Terrier, kept “headbutting and nuzzling” his owner Karen Ethier’s chest. The clever pooch alerted her to a lump which turned out to be stage three triple breast cancer.

Ms Ethier, from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery which caused hair loss and painful side effects.

Ms Ethier said Louie, who had a leg amputated due to neglect from a previous owner, was “incredibly loyal”.

She said: “I couldn’t believe it when I found a lump – Louie was trying to warn me the whole time.

“Louie is incredibly loyal and he knew when I was feeling down or sick from treatment.”

Their story emerged from a study of 2,000 dog owners commissioned by vitamin brand SuperDog from Vitabiotics.

Another dog highlighted in the study is Chico, a 13-year-old Yorkshire Terrier, who saved his owner Levi Carter’s life after she developed septis from third degree burns caused by a bad reaction to hair dye.

After returning home from hospital her pet would not leave her alone and was sniffing around her head.

Ms Carter, from Lincolnshire, said: “I only went back into the hospital because my dog wouldn’t leave me alone – he must have smelt the infection.

“If I left it any longer then who knows what would have happened – I might not be here. Chico saved my life.”

A third extraordinary dog in the study is seven-year-old Scooter, a Poodle mix with a blue Mohican who was adopted by Kirstie Coy-Martin, a Met Police officer struggling with PTSD after years on horrific child abuse cases.

The keen surfer, from Bracklesham Bay, in West Sussex, discovered pets can be trained as surf therapy dogs to support war veterans.

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She worked with Scooter to get him used to the board with treats and cuddles, before progressing to dog paddling pools and shallow water.

Ms Coy-Martin said: “We get stopped quite a lot for photos. That’s what he’s there for, to make people smile.

“Being in the water is my happy and safe space and it’s scientifically proven that surf therapy can help people with PTSD and other mental health issues.”

The study found 71 percent of owners consider their pet to be a hero.

A spokesperson for SuperDog from Vitabiotics said: “Dogs have long been considered to be ‘man’s best friend’, but this really reiterates the point that a dog owner’s life is more often than not better with their pet in it.

“Whether a dog is saving your life or simply providing you with companionship and comfort, they are an integral part of the family who we want to keep as fit, healthy and happy as possible.

“We want to celebrate some of our talented pets and are inviting owners to submit their dog’s stories for a chance to win prizes.”

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