Veterinary: Hair of the dog – testing stress levels in shelter dogs

A paper is published in Scientific Reports reporting that methods of measuring cortisol levels in dog hair samples may be effective in measuring long-term stress in dogs housed in animal shelters.Our findings suggest that hair harvesting may be considered a new useful tool for monitoring and studying the welfare of dogs.

Dogs can suffer from chronic stress in environments such as animal shelters, which can lead to long-term health problems and behavioral problems.A common way to determine the degree of stress is to measure blood and urinary levels of the hormone cortisol.However, these methods can be invasive, only the degree of stress at a particular point in time is known, and long-term stress cannot be investigated.

Now, Janneke van der Laan et al. Investigate whether sampling cortisol levels (HCCs) in hair, a non-invasive method, provides an accurate biomarker for long-term cortisol levels in dogs housed in animal shelters. bottom. van der Laan et al. Measured the HCC of 2018 dogs (10 females and 2019 males) housed in a Dutch animal shelter between October 8 and August 52.Dogs with strong anxiety and dogs with aggressive behavior were excluded from this study.Hair samples were collected at the time of containment in the animal shelter, 18 weeks after containment, and 34 weeks and 6 months after delivery to the new owner.A hair-shaving / re-hairing protocol was used to hair or cut the depilated areas so that newly grown hair could be re-haired after the end of the study period.Urine samples were collected 6 times at the animal shelter and 6 times after being handed over to the new owner. Hair samples were also collected once from pet dogs (control group) that were not housed in 5 animal shelters.

There was no significant difference between the HCC at the time of containment of dogs admitted to the animal shelter and the HCC of the control group. van der Laan et al. Report that HCC 6 weeks after admission to the animal shelter was significantly higher than HCC at detention.In contrast, the HCC 6 weeks and 6 months after being handed over to the new owner was not significantly higher than the HCC at containment.There was also a significant but moderate positive correlation between HCC and urinary cortisol levels in dogs housed in animal shelters.This suggests that HCC is an effective biomarker for canine cortisol levels and thus canine stress. Van der Laan et al. Add that future HCC studies need to be done in larger sample sizes, including a wide range of dog breeds with different types of hair.

doi: 10.1038 / s41598-022-09140-w
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Reprinted from: "Veterinary medicine: Examining the degree of stress from the hair of dogs housed in a shelter'

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