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Save that doggo! Shocking study shows long-term effects of snubbing rescue pets

NewsSave that doggo! Shocking study shows long-term effects of snubbing rescue pets

Researchers from Utrecht University have discovered that not all pups are happy-go-lucky by analysing levels of cortisol, the main stress hormone. Instead of going the usual route and testing for levels of the hormone in the blood and urine of shelter dogs, which can be invasive and not the best indicator of long-term stress, the researchers opted for a different tactic.

While blood and urine samples usually only indicate levels of stress at a specific time, Janneke van der Laan and her research team decided that sampling hair cortisol concentration (HCC) might be a better indicator of long-term stress.

This method is also non-invasive and the researchers suspected a more accurate biomarker for long-term consortium levels.

To find out, they assessed HCC levels in 52 dogs (18 female and 34 male) that had been sent to animal shelters in the Netherlands between October 2018 and August 2019.

But they purposefully made sure to exclude canines that were already displaying high anxiety or aggressive behaviour.

They took the hair during admittance to the shelter, after 6 weeks in the shelter, 6 weeks after adoption, and 6 months after adoption.

The researchers applied a shave/re-shave protocol, which is where a bald spot is shaved or cut to let a re-shave of newly grown hair once they are no longer needed for the study.

They did also take urine samples five times while the dogs were at the shelter and after they got adopted.

A single hair sample was also taken from a control group of 20 non-shelter pet dogs.

The researchers found that there were not any major differences in HCC levels between shelter dogs and the control group.

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Blue Cross, a dog charity, says that dogs can become stressed when they are bored, frustrated, scared or anxious.

They can also be affected by a change in routine, like getting less exercise.

This sometimes leaves dogs with excess energy with nowhere for it to go.

Blue Cross says that if your dog is showing aggression or other kinds of problematic behaviours, then you should speak to your vet and possibly find a professional animal behaviourist to help.

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