Itchy Dog or Stressed Dog?

Mar 1, 2021

itchy dog stress

If a stressor cannot be dealt with, or the motivation cannot be met, animals can express redirected behaviors where actions are redirected towards other stimuli, leading to behaviors such as excessive grooming (of the self and others), coprophagia, hyperactivity, overeating and, in extreme situations,
stereotypic repetitive functionless behavior (Notari, 2009) © Can Stock Photo / dimarik

The relationship between stress, behavior and animal health is complex and varied. Chronic, long-term stress interacts in various ways with personality type, behavior and immune health in both people and nonhuman animals. It’s not often straightforward to decipher which causes which when we evaluate chronic stress and health, however.

Skin conditions have long been considered to be indicators of psychological distress although only recently has evidence for this begun to accrue. A growing number of research studies now provide evidence that emotional stress is linked to skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis.

Some of this research suggests that emotional stress can cause impairments to the skin barrier. Research conducted with mouse models has shown that emotional stress from social isolation can disrupt skin barrier function, and that this disruption can be reversed with anxiolytics (Denda et al., 1998, 2000).

(Issue 46, January 2021, pp.22-25). Read article