06.20.2014 - Salivary cortisol and behavior in a population of healthy dogs hospitalized for elective procedures

Author: Hekman JP, et al. (2012) Applied Animal Behaviour Science.

The researchers assessed stress levels in two studies. Salivary cortisol samples and behavioral parameters were collected in healthy dogs hospitalized prior to elective procedures. A stress research tool (SRT) was constructed based on three behaviors, (head resting, panting and lip licking) that were most strongly related to salivary cortisol concentrations. Duration of head resting was negatively associated with salivary cortisol, and panting and lip licking were positively associated with cortisol. The SRT was effective at prediction of salivary cortisol concentrations when applied to 20 min but not 2 min of behavioral data. Future work to investigate the effects of stress on dogs and its mitigation in clinical situations may be approached by studying a combination of parameters, and should consider the possible beneficial effects of sedatives.