J Vet Sci.  2016 Jun;17(2):153-158. 10.4142/jvs.2016.17.2.153.

Evaluation of effects of olfactory and auditory stimulation on separation anxiety by salivary cortisol measurement in dogs

  • 1Department of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea. nsshin@snu.ac.kr


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.


cortisol; dog; physiology; saliva; separation anxiety disorder

MeSH Terms

Acoustic Stimulation/*veterinary
Anxiety, Separation/*prevention & control
Dog Diseases/*prevention & control
Stress, Physiological


  • Fig. 1 Hormonal results of the three groups (mean ± SE). (A) Variation in salivary cortisol level in group 1. Changes along periods were significantly different (p = 0.000). (B) Variation in salivary cortisol level in group 2. Changes along the periods were significantly different (p < 0.005). (C) Variation in salivary cortisol level in group 3. Hormonal changes along periods were significantly different (p < 0.005). There were no significant differences among groups at corresponding sampling times (p > 0.05). *p < 0.05, **p < 0.01 in comparison of pre-separation period (PRE) and post-separation period (POST). SP, separation period.

  • Fig. 2 Cortisol concentration ratio of SP1 at different time points (mean ± SE). (A) At SP1 to that at PRE. (B) At SP1 to that at POST. *p < 0.05 in comparison with group 1.

  • Fig. 3 The differences in cortisol concentration between time points (mean ± SE). (A) Between PRE and SP1. (B) Between SP1 and POST. *p < 0.05 in comparison with group 1.


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