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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Stress Can Cause Dogs To Go Prematurely Gray.

A new study has shown that stress can cause dogs to go grey prematurely.The study showed that the more anxious and impulsive a dog is the greater the stress level and hence graying of hair of the face. Animals are prone to stress induced graying just like humans according to a study published in December issue of Applied Animal Behavior Science. The lead researcher Camille King, an alumnus of Northern Illinois University and animal behaviorist, said based on years of experience observing and working with dogs, I’ve long had a suspicion that dogs with higher levels of anxiety and impulsiveness also show increased muzzle grayness. For the study, King teamed up with NIU professor Thomas Smith, animal behaviorist Peter Borchelt and renowned author/researcher Temple Grandin to visit dogs parks, veterinary offices and other areas where dogs congregate in Colorado. Together, they examined 400 dogs between the ages of 1 and 4. The dogs were photographed and the degree of muzzle grayness was rated on an ordinal scale ranging from “no gray” to “full gray.” In addition, the dogs’ owners were asked to fill out a behavior questionnaire and the owners were told that the purpose of the study involved dog lifestyle in order to prevent biased responses. The researchers found that dogs who exhibited higher owner-reported signs of anxiety and impulsivity showed a greater extent of premature muzzle graying than their less-anxious and less-impulsive dog peers. Female dogs showed higher levels of grayness than male dogs, but dog size, spay/neuter status and the presence of medical problems did not significantly predict the extent of muzzle grayness. One practical implication of the findings of this study involves the possibility of using observations of muzzle grayness in a diagnostic manner to address anxiety, impulsivity, or fear issues. According to the researchers, if dog professionals such as veterinarians, applied behaviorists, dog trainers, etc. are able to note premature graying in their assessments and or training, then these dogs might be assessed more thoroughly for anxiety/impulsivity/fear problems and, if necessary, started on behavior modification programs earlier in their developmental life stages. more