Separation anxiety (SA) is a serious behavioral problem in dogs. In this study, salivary cortisol was studied to determine if the owner's odor or voice could reduce SA in dogs. Twenty-eight dogs with SA were divided into three groups: group 1 (control), group 2 (with owner's clothes during the separation period; SP) and group 3 (a recording of the owner's voice was played during SP). The dog's saliva was collected after the owner and their dog were in the experimental room for 5 min (PRE). The dog was then separated from the owner for 20 min and saliva collected four times at intervals of 5 min (SP1-4). Finally, the owner was allowed back into the room to calm the dog for 5 min, after which saliva was collected (POST). Evaluation of salivary cortisol concentrations by ELISA revealed that the ratios of SP1 concentration to PRE or POST concentrations were significantly higher in group 1 than in group 2 or 3. Additionally, the concentrations of SP1-PRE and SP1-POST among groups differed significantly. These findings indicate that the owner's odor or voice may be helpful to managing stress in dogs with SA.
Keywords: cortisol; dog; physiology; saliva; separation anxiety disorder.