Home page Psychology blog Psychology News Have Mercy on the Dogs: they Suffer from your Stresses

Have Mercy on the Dogs: they Suffer from your Stresses

01.08.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin
Four-legged friend

Four-legged pets are so sensitive that they catch stress and experience it with us.

The Scientific Reports journal presented a new study by Swedish researchers on the ability of dogs to feel and deal with the stress of their owners. The experiment involved 58 women and their pets – Border collie and Sheltie dogs – which are known to be excellent companions. Hair samples were taken from the dogs and their owners and the level of cortisol, a stress hormone, was measured. A few months later, they made a second, control analysis.

It turned out that in the long-term perspective, the level of cortisol in the ladies and their dogs levelled out. Pets of women with high levels of the hormone also showed high levels of the same hormone, and the dogs owned by the women with a low concentration of cortisol showed similar levels. At the same time, the character traits of both the owners and the dogs did not in any way affect the level of cortisol and did not affect the result of the study. According to the study, the authors suggested that owners’ stress is transmitted over time to their dogs.

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Cortisol is a glucocorticoid hormone secreted by the adrenal cortex. This is our defence mechanism against stress. Cortisol is responsible for maintaining water-salt balance and blood pressure control. It participates in the creation of cellular enzymes, increases the heart rate and accelerates glucose synthesis. Under chronic stress, it leads to metabolic problems and without physical activity the glucose produced by the hormone remains in the muscles, which leads to obesity and raises the risk of diabetes.

According to earlier studies, it was found that people with prolonged stress “infect” their families with this condition. For example, a mother’s stress is transmitted to her child, which is often noticed by others. Now it turns out that dogs can also adopt our stressful state. So, fight your stress for the sake of those who love you!