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Is your stress rubbing off on your dog?

It’s no great secret that dogs are sensitive to human emotions, but new research published this month in Nature Scientific Reports indicates that if an owner is chronically stressed, it can rub off on their dog as well. Stress hormones such as cortisol increase in the body during times of stress and a record of these fluctuations over time is preserved in the hair of mammals, similar to an ice or sediment core. So to get a picture of how much stress both species experienced, the study examined hair from 58 dogs and their owners and the humans filled out a questionnaire about their own mental health and their dogs’ behavior. The only variable that correlated to the dog’s stress level was their owner’s stress level, suggesting our pets may pick up on our neuroses, National Geographic reports.

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