Assessment of salivary alpha-amylase and cortisol as a pain related stress biomarker in dogs pre-and post-operation

Eun Ha Kang, Seol Hee Park, Ye In Oh, Kyoung Won Seo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The use of salivary biomarkers has garnered attention because the composition of saliva reflects the body’s physiological state. Saliva contains a wide range of components, including peptides, nucleic acids, electrolytes, enzymes, and hormones. It has been reported that salivary alpha-amylase and cortisol are biomarkers of stress related biomarker in diseased dogs; however, evaluation of salivary alpha-amylase and cortisol pre- and post- operation has not been studied yet. The aim of this study was to evaluate salivary alpha-amylase and cortisol levels in dogs before and after they underwent surgery and investigate the association between the salivary alpha-amylase and cortisol activity and pain intensity. For this purpose, a total of 35 dogs with disease-related pain undergoing orthopedic and soft tissue surgeries were recruited. Alpha-amylase and cortisol levels in the dogs’ saliva and serum were measured for each using a commercially available canine-specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kit, and physical examinations (measurement of heart rate and blood pressure) were performed. In addition, the dogs’ pre- and post-operative pain scores determined using the short form of the Glasgow Composite Measure Pain Scale (CMPS-SF) were evaluated. Results: After surgery, there was a significant decrease in the dogs’ pain scores (0.4-fold for the CMPS-SF, p < 0.001) and serum cortisol levels (0.73-fold, p < 0.01). Based on their pre-operative CMPS-SF scores, the dogs were included in either a high-pain-score group or a low-pain-score group. After the dogs in the high-pain-score group underwent surgical intervention, there was a significant decrease in their CMPS-SF scores and levels of salivary alpha-amylase, serum alpha-amylase, and serum cortisol. Additionally, there was a positive correlation between salivary alpha-amylase levels and CMPS-SF scores in both the high- and low-pain-score groups. Conclusions: The measurement of salivary alpha amylase can be considered an important non-invasive tool for the evaluation of pain-related stress in dogs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number31
JournalBMC veterinary research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Alpha-amylase
  • Canine
  • Cortisol
  • Glasgow composite measure pain scale (CMPS-SF)
  • Pain
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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