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Article
Plasma Cortisol Levels of Dogs at a County Animal Shelter
Physiology & Behavior
  • Michael B. Hennessy, Wright State University - Main Campus
  • Harry N. Davis
  • Michael T. Williams
  • Carolyn Mellot
  • Chet W. Douglas
Document Type
Article
Publication Date
9-1-1997
Abstract

Plasma cortisol levels were examined to assess the stress of dogs in a county animal shelter. Groups of dogs confined in the shelter for their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd day had higher cortisol levels than did a group maintained in the shelter for more than 9 days. Dogs in the shelter for an intermediate period (Day 4–9) had intermediate levels of cortisol. The cortisol concentrations of dogs during their first day in the shelter were greater than either those of the same dogs on Day 4/5 in the shelter or those of a group of pet dogs sampled in their own homes. There was no overall effect of 20 min of social interaction with a human (e.g., petting) on the plasma cortisol levels of dogs in the shelter on Day 1–3. However, the gender of the petter did affect cortisol levels. Those dogs interacting with a female had lower cortisol concentrations at the end of the session than did dogs interacting with a male. The results suggest that confinement in a public animal shelter produces a prolonged activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Further, it appears that some subtle aspect of interaction with a human may be capable of moderating this response. Possible implications for the welfare of confined dogs, and for the development of behavior problems in dogs obtained from shelters, are discussed.

DOI
10.1016/S0031-9384(97)80328-9
Citation Information
Michael B. Hennessy, Harry N. Davis, Michael T. Williams, Carolyn Mellot, et al.. "Plasma Cortisol Levels of Dogs at a County Animal Shelter" Physiology & Behavior Vol. 62 Iss. 3 (1997) p. 485 - 490 ISSN: 0031-9384
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/michael_hennessy/11/