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Can Man’s Best Friend Experience PTSD From War?

 

I’ve been learning a bit about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) lately because in our upcoming September issue, we briefly explore technology intended to help individuals suffering from PTSD, particularly vets traumatized from experiences in Iraq.

Today, this AP news article really caught my eye, which says that a German shepherd exhibited signs of PTSD after performing her duties with the military in Iraq.


While in Iraq, it seems that Gina, who was highly trained to sniff bombs, helped conduct door-to-door searches and experienced loud explosions. She returned to Colorado acting as if she was terrified all the time: she recoiled and hid from humans, she was anxious and fearful of everything.

It’s been a year since Gina’s returned from the warzone, and it seems she’s made remarkable progress in her recovery.

I thought it was really interesting that one expert was quoted saying that some veterinarians dislike diagnosing animals with PTSD--they believe it’s “demeaning” because PTSD is “a diagnosis developed for humans, not dogs.”

But to me, it sounds from the article that the behaviors Gina was exhibiting sounds very much like PTSD. Or, at least that she was very traumatized by what she witnessed and experienced. She’s been overcoming her fears because the people around her have been showing her through their behaviors that people can be safe.

One of her handlers, however, says that although she’s been recovering well, he isn’t sure if she’ll ever recover completely.

What do you think? Can diagnoses that were developed for humans be extended to include animals?

08.04.2010   Posted In: NETWORKER EXCHANGE   By Psychotherapy Networker
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