Sleepover Effects on Cortisol Levels in Shelter Dogs
A study evaluated the impacts of one- and two-night fostering programs on the urinary cortisol levels, resting pulse rates, longest bout of uninterrupted rest, and proportion of time spent resting of shelter dogs. Five animal shelters from across the United States participated in the study. During the study, dogs’ urine was collected in the morning before, during, and after fostering stays for cortisol: creatinine analysis. Wearable monitors collected heart rates and activity levels of the dogs while in the shelter and in foster homes.
207 dogs participated in the study. Study results showed that most dogs’ cortisol: creatinine ratios dropped significantly during their fostering stay, but returned to baseline levels after return to the shelter. However, the observed reduction in cortisol varied in magnitude across shelters. The study also showed that dogs of greater weight, age, and average resting pulse rate had higher cortisol levels; and dogs with longer bouts of uninterrupted rest had lower cortisol levels. Dogs had their longest bouts of rest during sleepovers, followed by in the shelter after their sleepovers.
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