Dogs can smell stress


Life can be stressful!  Let’s agree that there is no limit to how busy we are, chasing our professional and personal affairs and simply keeping up with rising costs in these wallet-whopping times. Yet, we also need to think about how stress impacts pets. 

Did you know that dogs can SMELL our stress? It’s been proven in clinical studies that dogs could detect the difference in sweat samples taken from a person under duress (solving a complicated math problem) and those who were not. Reference article to support this point:

Not so hard to believe when you compare a dog’s divine gift of 220-300 million+ olfactory receptors in their nose (vs human: 12-50 million). The actual statistical quotes vary, yet you get the drift of their super-power whiff, right?

Notwithstanding specific breeds that have an even greater sense of smell and those trained in scent work (Bloodhounds, Beagles, drug sniffing K9’s, etc.), if an owner’s lifestyle or routines have changed, even slightly, their dog can both smell and sense the changes in body chemistry and emotions. This includes pet owners travelling under duress (bereavement trips) or understandable reactions to life’s emotional stressors. Pet sitters get stressed too! Be aware of how you might be inadvertently impacting your furry client’s reactions to you if you show up for service under extremely terse conditions.  The adage “keep calm and carry on” takes on new meaning in this context.

Most pet owners looking for private pet boarding or move-in pet care want to minimize the stress typically associated with pet resorts and kennels. This growing trend for more intimate pet care services has provided a wealth of opportunity for pet sitters across the U.S. A professional pet sitter should be able to provide a far more peaceful and entertaining experience for their client’s dogs.

Not surprising to animal lovers and pet sitters, cats are included in the “special sensory” category also.  According to Dr. Nicholas Dodman, a professor emeritus at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, and CEO and president of the Center for Canine Behavior Studies: “A therapy cat “Oscar” is believed to have sensed death was coming based on a change in human smell as they approached end of life.” Horses have similar scent assessments also!

There’s quite a bit of clinical evidence to support a dog’s brilliance at detection, and the subject begs to be better understood to know what the signs of pet stress are and possible causes. For an in-depth article about 23 common stress signals for dogs and how to calm them please read this incredibly informative piece from to expand your knowledge and approach as a professional pet sitter:

Hugs from your Pet Pro Team @ AoPP