New Research Shows Stress Can Turn Your Dog’s Fur Gray

Most of us can easily recognize the tell-tale signs of a pooch who is stressing out; they pace, whine, hide and can nip at uninvited fingers. But did you know that research conducted by the Northern Illinois University suggests our four-legged kids may also experience a little premature “salt and pepper” as a result of worrisome situations.

Published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, the study of 400 dogs found that those who exhibited higher than typical signs of anxiety were prone to a little more greying around the muzzle than their chilled out peers. Researchers gathered data on the pooch’s behaviors from the pet parents and had independent graders then rate the extent of muzzle grayness based on pix of the pooches taken while on-site.

Related: Research Finds Fear and Anxiety Negatively Affects Dog Health and Lifespan

The canine subjects were all between one and four years old (so age wasn’t a factor) and results showed that those whose owners reported higher signs of anxiety displayed premature muzzle graying.

This was the same research team who published an article in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior that examined the effectiveness of swaddling and pressure wraps such as Thundershirts, on heart rate levels and symptoms of anxiety in pooches. Their findings concluded that use of such applications does in fact have a notable decrease in heart rate in anxious dogs as well as other measures of stress.

So before you reach for the Grecian Formula, why not try de-stressors recognized by veterinarians and dog trainers including the above-mentioned Thundershirt, physical activities or providing your pooch with his very own “safe space”, toys or blankets until the situation has defused.


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