Many of us have been there--finding that lone gray hair that signals to us a change. While we humans associate graying hair with getting older, in dogs, graying hair can signal loneliness.
According to a recent article on CNN, the anxiety and stress of being alone can contribute to dogs' fur turning gray prematurely. Dogs who are anxious, according to the research cited, may whine or bark when left alone.
The study that the article reports on even surprised one of the researchers. The Chicago Tribune reports that Northern Illinois University professor Thomas Smith was skeptical at first, but once the data was collected, he saw how stressed dogs were prematurely gray. It was also found that female dogs were more likely to gray than male dogs.
The dogs in the study were from the ages of one to four. Pet owners with dogs in this age range who might be concerned about their dog’s level of anxiety can check with their veterinarian or a dog trainer to help alleviate the anxiety. Other suggestions are to not leave the dog alone for so long each day—Perhaps a dog daycare provider that can provide the dog with care and attention.