Animal shelters tend to be a very stressful environment for dogs as there are many new sounds, smells, and animals. This stress is not only bad for their psychological health and can lead to behavioral issues, but it can also have an impact on their physical health. Stress impacts multiple systems of the body, resulting in increased heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, temperature and even blood glucose levels in dogs. The impact stress has on these systems can lead to a compromised immune system and increases the probabilities of the dog becoming ill. However, by using Fear Free methods, there are many steps that can assist in reducing the animal’s stress. These methods target multiple senses such as hearing, smell, touch, and taste. By using pheromones, calming music, reducing excess noise, using minimal restraint, speaking softly and positively, using treats as a distraction and reward, and simply petting the animal can all reduce the stress levels in a dog. In an already very stressful situation, the simple task of giving a subcutaneous injection can cause even more undo stress and changes in the animal’s physiological parameters. This study included thirty-four dogs of various breeds between one and seven years of age. The dogs were separated into two groups. Group 1 used traditional restraint techniques and Group 2 used Fear Free techniques. Each dog received a 1-milliliter subcutaneous injection of sterile saline in the left hind limb. Physiological parameters were taken pre and post-injection. These parameters include temperature, pulse, respiration, blood glucose, and blood pressure. Fear Free handling resulted in a greater decrease in the majority of the physiological parameters which suggests that Fear Free techniques lead to less overall stress in the shelter animals when compared to traditional handling.
Swim, Ashley; Smart, Courtney; and Staton, Amy, "Low Stress Handling Techniques In Shelter Animals And The Overall Effects On Physiological Parameters" (2021). 2021 Celebration of Student Scholarship - Oral Presentations. 10.