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Effects of Sheltering on Behavior and Fecal Corticosterone Level of Elderly Dogs

By Katsuji Uetake, Chu Han Yang, Aki Endo, Toshio Tanaka

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In Japan, the human population is aging rapidly, and the abandonment of dogs by the elderly people who have died or been hospitalized becomes a problem. It is hypothesized that elderly dogs have difficulty adapting to the novel circumstances when brought to an animal shelter. Therefore, the objective of this study was to assess stress levels and demonstrate stress responses of elderly dogs just after admission to an animal shelter. As stress indicators, fecal corticosterone levels and changes in the ethogram of the dogs were investigated during the first week of admittance. Fecal corticosterone levels (mean ± SE) stayed high during the first week of residence, although they fell gently from the day after admittance (16650.1 ± 3769.7 ng/g) to the seventh day (12178.4 ± 2524.4 ng/g) (P < 0.001). The proportions of behavioral expressions changed as the days passed (P < 0.001). In particular, stereotypies decreased from 35.7% on the first day to 2.6% on the sixth day, and time spent sleeping increased from 0.0 to 42.7%. These results indicate that elderly dogs admitted to an animal shelter seem to behaviorally adapt themselves to their novel circumstances but might be stressed even on the seventh day of residence.


Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2016
Publication Title Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume 3
Issue 103
Publisher Frontiers
DOI 10.3389/fvets.2016.00103
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal health and hygiene
  2. Animal housing
  3. Animal roles
  4. Animal shelters
  5. Animals in culture
  6. Animal welfare
  7. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  8. Dogs
  9. Glucocorticoids
  10. Health
  11. Mammals
  12. Physical environment
  13. Social Environments
  14. stereotypes
  15. Stress response