Cortisol and Secretory Immunoglobulin A Response to Stress in German Shepherd Dogs
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The aim of the study was to determine whether cortisol and secretory Immunoglobulin A (sIgA) could be used as an indicator of acute stress in both young and adult dogs. Seventeen German shepherd puppies were exposed to the Puppy test (challenge test) at the age of seven weeks. This test has been routinely used to assess the future working ability of potential police dogs. In addition, ten adult females were subjected to 4 minutes of defense training under stressful conditions. Saliva was collected from the puppies and adult females before testing and 20 minutes after the start of testing, using a cotton swab held for 1-2 minutes in each dog’s mouth. Cortisol concentrations increased after the test compared to the control sample both in puppies and the adult females. However adult females showed a significant decrease in sIgA after defense training while puppies showed a tendency of increase in sIgA. We propose that salivary cortisol could be used as an indicator of stress in puppies during early ontogeny. It is not yet clear whether sIgA could be used as a useful indicator of short-term stress in dogs.
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