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Like Presidents, Dogs May Go Gray When Stressed

Obama and Gray Dog

A new study, co-authored by author and scientist Temple Grandin and published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science explores whether anxiety and impulsiveness may contribute to premature graying in dogs.

The research focused on a sample of 400 dogs, age 1 to 4 years old, found at dog parks and vet clinics, among other places (it’s notable that the dogs studied were not older, “senior” dogs, who might have being turning gray naturally as part of the aging process).

Scientists compared photographs of the dogs to questionnaires given to their owners. Questions focused on anxiety indicators such as destruction when left alone, hair loss upon vet examination, and cringing or cowering when introduced to groups of people.

Indicators of impulsiveness included jumping on people, an inability to remain calm, loss of focus, and hyperactivity after exercise.

Results of the study showed that dogs who are impulsive and have anxiety have a 40 % to 65% chance of going gray early. Results were rated on a scale, from 0 (no gray), to 3 (full gray).

“The fact that Presidents turn prematurely gray was one of the things that made me encourage… the study,” said Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University, according to a news report on CNN Health.

In the human world “gray beards” signifies distinguished, wise, more mature men. We owe our dogs the same respect: let’s think of gray muzzles the way we think of “silver foxes” and people who have gained wisdom with age.

Tracie Hotchner is a nationally acclaimed pet wellness advocate, who wrote THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. She is recognized as the premiere voice for pets and their people on pet talk radio. She continues to produce and host her own Gracie® Award winning NPR show DOG TALK®  (and Kitties, Too!) from Peconic Public Broadcasting in the Hamptons after 9 consecutive years and over 500 shows. She produced and hosted her own live, call-in show CAT CHAT® on the Martha Stewart channel of Sirius/XM for over 7 years until the channel was canceled, when Tracie created her own Radio Pet Lady Network where she produces and co-hosts CAT CHAT® along with 10 other pet talk radio podcasts with top veterinarians and pet experts.

Dog Film Festival - Tracie HotchnerTracie also is the Founder and Director of the annual NY Dog Film Festival, a philanthropic celebration of the love between dogs and their people. Short canine-themed documentary, animated and narrative films from around the world create a shared audience experience that inspires, educates and entertains. With a New York City premiere every October, the Festival then travels around the country, partnering in each location with an outstanding animal welfare organization that brings adoptable dogs to the theater and receives half the proceeds of the ticket sales. Halo was a Founding Sponsor in 2015 and donated 10,000 meals to the beneficiary shelters in every destination around the country in 2016.

Tracie lives in Bennington, Vermont – where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based – and where her 12 acres are well-used by her 2-girl pack of lovely, lively rescued Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda.

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