Time to break the news to your dog: Too much stress might make them go gray
While many of us thought that our animal best friends were immune from the pressures of modern life, it turns out dogs can be stressed. We try to make their lives as happy as possible, but when dogs spend too much time feeling anxious, there can be side effects. According to a new study, dogs can go gray under stress, just like people.
A greying muzzle can be a distinguished and adorable look on an older dog. But the study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, animal science expert Temple Grandin (yes, THAT Temple Grandin from the HBO movie), along with co-authors Camille King, Thomas J. Smith, and Peter Borchelt, argues that the graying may be more about stress.
When dogs were put under stress, the study found they were more likely to go gray.
Things that might stress your pup out include unhappiness or destruction when left alone at home, being anxious around large groups of people, and being nervous at the vet or in new places. Too much of these stimuli can make your pet anxious, and that stress might cause them to sprout grays.
Temple Grandin got the idea to do her study from observing U.S. presidents.
Temple’s colleague, Camille King, brought the idea of studying dogs’ grayness to her, and Temple’s first thought was of U.S. presidents.
So they decided to do the study, and sure enough, they found that dogs and humans are similar in that regard. The study found that for each increase in a measured trait for anxiety or stress, gray hairs increased by 45%-60%. Basically, you can give your dog gray hairs just as easily as they can give you them!
And that’s what’s great about the study — it shows us another reason why our dogs are like us.
Dogs need to be loved and kept in a stress free environment, just like we do — or as stress free as possible. But probably the more time you two spend together, the less stressed both of you will feel. So that’s a win-win!