We praise the ability of dogs to work side by side with us as guide dogs, K-9 dogs, military dogs, and TSA assistants at airports, among other occupations. But how does the stress of their work impact their health?
Researchers at Colorado State University are about to find out as they embark on a pilot study to measure working dogs’ allostatic load, which is wear and tear on the body that accumulates as an individual is exposed to chronic stress. We already know that a high allostatic load in people is a predictor of negative health outcomes that include heart disease and cognitive decline. Now lifestyle factors that affect a dog’s allostatic load will begin to be addressed, helping us take better care not just of dogs as pets but of dogs as faithful employees.