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Use of accelerometers to measure stress levels in shelter dogs

By S. Jones, S. Dowling-Guyer, G. J. Patronek, A. R. Marder, S. S. D'Arpino, E. McCobb

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Stress can compromise welfare in any confined group of nonhuman animals, including those in shelters. However, an objective and practical method for assessing the stress levels of individual dogs housed in a shelter does not exist. Such a method would be useful for monitoring animal welfare and would allow shelters to measure the effectiveness of specific interventions for stress reduction. In this pilot study, activity levels were studied in 13 dogs using accelerometers attached to their collars. Behavioral stress scores as well as urinary and salivary cortisol levels were measured to determine if the dogs' activity levels while confined in the kennel correlated with behavioral and physiological indicators of stress in this population. The results indicated that the accelerometer could be a useful tool to study stress-related activity levels in dogs. Specific findings included a correlation between the salivary cortisol and maximum activity level ( r=.62, p=.025) and a correlation between the urine cortisol-to-creatinine ratio and average activity level ( r=.61, p=.028) among the study dogs. Further research is needed to better understand the complex relationship between stress and activity level among dogs in a kennel environment.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 17
Issue 1
Pages 18-28
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2014.856241
Language English
Author Address Center for Animals and Public Policy, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, 200 Westboro Road, North Grafton, MA 01536,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal housing
  2. Animals
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Canidae
  5. Canine
  6. Carnivores
  7. Dogs
  8. Efficacy
  9. Hydrocortisone
  10. Indicators
  11. Interventions
  12. Mammals
  13. Methodologies
  14. monitoring
  15. peer-reviewed
  16. shelters
  17. Stress
  18. Techniques
  19. urine
  20. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed