KITCHENER -- A study from the University of Guelph has found stress levels of dogs visiting the vet has gone up during the pandemic, since their owners are now forced to wait outside.

The findings from the school’s veterinary college show that dogs separated from their owners during exams show more physiological and behavourial signs of fear and stress compared to dogs who have their owner in the room.

Researchers say stress in the clinic can impair the dog from being properly assessed during the appointment and potentially put vet staff at risk.

“We started this research before the pandemic because we wanted to see the impact of separating dogs from their owners, which we know happens often during veterinary procedures,” said Prof. Lee Niel in a Monday media release. “But these findings are particularly relevant now, given how many clinics are asking owners to wait outside for the visit.”

The study was conducted with 32 dogs who underwent a standard veterinary exam with or without their owner in the room.

Dogs who did not have their owner in sight had increased heart rate, temperature, growling, whining, yelping, and yawned far less than dogs in the owner-present group.

The study says holding exams outside if conditions allow and offering lots of treats as potential solutions to this issue.