You are here: Home / Journal Articles / Welfare Assessment in Shelter Dogs by Using Physiological and Immunological Parameters / About

Welfare Assessment in Shelter Dogs by Using Physiological and Immunological Parameters

By Cecilia Righi, Laura Menchetti, Riccardo Orlandi, Livia Moscati, Stefania Mancini, Silvana Diverio

Category Journal Articles

This study aimed to evaluate the state of welfare of a group of dogs during the first month after entering the shelter by using different stress parameters. Blood and fecal samples were collected from a group of 71 dogs at the time of admission to the shelter. In 46 of these dogs, sampling was repeated after four weeks. Well-recognized welfare biomarkers, such as fecal cortisol and leukocytes, as well as some innovative parameters (β-endorphin and lysozyme) were determined. Uni- and multivariate statistical analyses were used to evaluate their interactions and changes over time. Neutrophils (p < 0.01), lysozyme (p < 0.05), and fecal cortisol (p < 0.05) decreased, while lymphocytes (p < 0.05) increased after four weeks compared to the first days of being in the shelter, suggesting an improvement in the dogs’ welfare over time. A principal component analysis extracted three bipolar components (PCs), explaining 75% of the variance and indicating negative associations between neutrophil and lymphocyte (PC1), lysozyme and β-endorphin (PC2), cortisol and lysozyme (PC3). The associations between these variables within each PC also confirmed the intricate relationships between the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and the immune system as well as the importance of a multiparametric approach in evaluating welfare.     


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2019
Publication Title Animals
Volume 9
Issue 6
Pages 14
Publisher MDPI
DOI 10.3390/ani9060340
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal health and hygiene
  2. Animal roles
  3. Animal shelters
  4. Dogs
  5. immune systems
  6. Mammals
  7. open access
  8. Pets and companion animals
  1. open access