They managed it! Who would have dared put their money on the FCI European Section's 2012 Show in Bucharest being such a resounding success? Victim of a smear campaign on the social networks (what power, what strength, often positive but at times also very harmful), the Asociatia Chinologica Romana (AchR) was able to keep a cool head, rising to the challenge and attracting more than 6,000 dogs to the Romanian capital. The AChR was able to leverage the smear campaign against it to promote the show, and the least we can say is that it was very successful in doing so. Congratulations to the whole Romanian team, brilliantly led by Mr C. Stefanescu and Mr P. Muntean.

Unfortunately, three of the canine world’s top personalities have recently left us and the FCI would like to pay tribute to them here...

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Yves De Clercq
FCI Executive Director
Dogs and Stress

Stress occurs in our daily lives, so why should it not affect our dogs? Dogs are prone to stress, especially if they have had a history of mistreatment by others. Border Collies, Great Danes and German Shepherds are examples of dogs that are more prone to neurotic or stressful tendencies.

Stress in dogs can come from a variety of sources, including trauma (as the result of accident or mistreatment), physical restraint, confinement, change of routine, boredom, noise, danger, urgency, injuries, fatalities, unknowns, separation, excitement, repeated or regular fear, frustration of goals, interactions - such as with overly aggressive people or other dogs - and anxiety, to name a few. Some situations that also could disrupt your dog's routine and cause stress are transport or travelling, a new home/new owner , dog shows , environmental changes, your absence, a new family member or visitor and a new pet, including new puppy. Being aware of these things can help you minimise stress in your dog's life.

Stress has several different effects on a dog’s body, including a drop in the immune system, increased pulse rate, increased gastric activity, higher levels of sexual hormones in the body, and increased anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) levels. A dog’s body will release adrenalin, and this hormone will continue to be released for anywhere from two to fifteen minutes after the event. It can take days for these levels to reach a normal balance again; and if the dog is continuously stressed, this situation can lead to behavioural problems and an overactive dog. Very stressed dogs often develop health issues, as the immune system is compromised. The nervous system is responsible for inputting and processing information and outputting behaviours. The nervous system is divided into different parts which serve different purposes. The sympathetic system causes dogs to be prone to emotional reactivity and the parasympathetic system causes dogs to be calmer and more able to adapt. If the sympathetic system is more powerful in a dog he will be emotionally reactive and have a low stress threshold. If the parasympathetic system is more powerful in a dog he will be emotionally stable and have a higher stress threshold. Dogs that are sympathetically prone are more likely to develop behaviour problems. The stress threshold is the upper limit point at which stress surpasses the dog's stress tolerance. Many dogs can handle high levels of stress without reaching their stress threshold while others cannot handle even small amounts of stress without becoming anxious. Stress in general affects dogs, but when stress surpasses the stress threshold a cascade of electrochemical reactions take place called a stress response. This level of stress is called over stress. It creates a chemical and functional disturbance. When a dog is acutely affected by stressful stimuli, a flood of chemicals surges into the brain. When this happens the dog’s threshold for responding reactively or aggressively is lowered. The threshold for aggressive behaviour is lowered in dogs under stress. If acute stress occurs, adrenaline takes over and triggers the dog into action, mentally and physically. If chronic stress occurs, Norepinephrine (NE) - responsible for energy levels -, Serotonin (regulates mood, pain and arousal levels) and Dopamine (involved in motor coordination, attention and reaction time) become depleted. The regular release of those stress chemicals in the body can cause an increased amount of inflammation – predisposing the animal to allergies, itchy skin, poor wound healing, digestive disorders such as intermittent vomiting, stomach ulcers, intermittent diarrhoea or blood in the faeces. A reduced immune system functioning can cause the dog to suffer from repeated infections such as skin infection, ear infection and bladder infection.

Recognising Stress – Common things that can indicate stress are:

  • Body posture: Body tense, stiff / Body droopy, tired appearance / Body lowered, not cowering but slinkier than usual / Stretching / Skin twitching / Change in pace / Sit down / Tail wag different from normal / Panting / Shaking or shivering / Trembling / Pacing / Four F’s (flight, fight, fiddle about and freeze) / Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD’s) which can include stereotypes such as tail chasing, acral lick granulomas, fly snapping, wood eating.
  • Vocalising: Whining / Barking / Yawning.
  • Eyes: Dilated pupils / Glazed look / Squinting / Shifty eyes / Whale eye, white showing/ Blinking / Red pigment around eyes (also inner ears) / Avoids eye contact (turns head away) / Looks to handler frequently for directions.
  • Mouth: Panting, too wide or too narrow / Licking lips or nose / Yawning / Jaw clamping / Drooling / Velvet tongue.
  • Face: Furrowed brow / Mouth corners back / Ears back or uneven / Veins prominent under eyes.
  • Other: Stops to chew on self, scratches / Just sits or lays down / Comes to you in an attention getting manner / Paws sweating / Tail held lower than normal / Sniffing / Digging / Circling, returning to you in arc path / Out of context behaviours / Loss or weight or refusal to eat / Restless or hyperactive behaviour / Destructive behaviour / unable to focus on commands or inability to perform learned behaviours / Poor coat condition, diarrhea, constant itching / Lack of bowel or bladder control / Extreme to regular fear responses / Poor sleep patterns / Hyper vigilance / Poor learning capacity/ Picky eating / Food bolting – including marked scavenging / Certain chronic health problems / Weight loss / Weight gain / Bladder infection / Confusion /Self-mutilation / Excessive grooming / Sleeping excessively / Excessive thirst.

What to do?

  • Take a break
  • Use calming signals: stretch, yawn, blink your eyes, look away rather than direct eye contact with the dog, and take a deep breath and sigh.
  • Relax yourself: free your mind of all the business that's running through and think of something pleasant, let your muscles go into relax mode, but maintain a confident posture.
  • Reassure the dog / Training for stress: vocalise to the dog that they are great and all is well etc. Carry on a conversation in a light hearted, soft and reassuring manner - the voice can be very calming - just don't overdo it, they will figure that out in a hurry.
  • A depressed immune functioning that negatively affects skin and coat health, gastro-intestinal health, wound healing with increased risk of infections must be supported. Those animals that are regularly confronted with stress situations such as sporting dogs, show dogs etc., must be preventively helped with supplementation of prebiotics (inulin, FOS and MOS), omega 3 fatty acids and all essential nutrients for dogs. Viyo Elite will deliver all those nutrients in one single product with the advantage of a good absorption of all those nutrients due to a liquid and high palatable formulation supporting the stressed dog in an optimal way.

Dr Wim Van Kerkhoven, Viyo Elite