A veterinarian can diagnose whether a dog has PTSD.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a psychological disorder that affects humans and animals. PTSD in dogs can occur after a traumatic event, just as it does in humans. Signs include behavior change, such as nervousness, weight loss, and aggression. Trembling, moaning, or other sudden changes in behavior may also be apparent. Many dogs that have returned from war zones have been diagnosed with this disorder, as have police dogs that have witnessed gunfire or other conflicts.
Dogs rescued from shelters often show signs of PTSD.
Dogs are being used at increasing rates in war zones to sniff out bombs and for other tasks. After a traumatic event, such as a bomb explosion or repeated gunshots, some of these dogs begin to exhibit fearful behavior. As in humans suffering from the disease, PTSD in dogs is believed to cause lightning strikes from the traumatic event. They will avoid things that remind them of the event. Typically, military dogs with PTSD can no longer work in war zones.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects not only humans, but dogs as well.
PTSD in dogs is being diagnosed more frequently as veterinarians are starting to recognize it as a legitimate disorder. Dogs that have been in situations of abuse or neglect can also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. It is being diagnosed most often in dogs rescued from shelters. Pet dogs can also experience post-traumatic stress disorder following the loss of a caregiver.
Treatment for dogs with PTSD may include special training.
Not all dogs that show signs of PTSD actually have it, as there are medical conditions that can mimic the symptoms. Any dog that exhibits a change in behavior should be examined by a veterinarian to rule out medical causes, even if it has experienced a traumatic event. A veterinarian can also recommend tips for dealing with behavioral changes and help find ways for the dog to begin the healing process.
Police dogs that have witnessed gunfire or other conflict have been diagnosed with PTSD.
Treating PTSD in dogs involves training them to feel comfortable again in tense situations. They should have a safe place to hide when they feel stressed and a daily routine where there should be favorite toys or other items that the dog uses to calm down. Normal people or situations, such as going to the vet, that cause stress, should be introduced to the dog slowly and encouragingly. Medications are not generally used to treat PTSD in dogs.
Positive reinforcement can be used to encourage a dog to overcome fear.
Some dogs treated for this disorder have returned to work in the military or police. Many dogs treated at shelters for the disorder have become loving family pets. Since treatment primarily consists of retraining, many dogs can expect to live a normal life after treatment is over.