Canine PTSD

I want to share this article from today’s NYTimes because it’s about PTSD in dogs and I thought you guys might like it! The article reports that up to 5% of dogs in the military get PTSD. Interestingly enough, an official diagnosis of PTSD in canines only began to be used 18 months ago. Even more striking was that the dogs exhibit almost the exact same symptoms as humans: they avoid areas where the had an adverse experience, their temperament changes and they become hyper-vigilant amongst other things. These are all symptoms we see in humans. Moreover, the same type of therapy works as a treatment in dogs as in humans. Exposure therapy is used to desensitize the dogs (they’re exposed to a sight or sound that now scares them, like a gunshot, and are rewarded if they don’t react), which is very similar to the exposure therapy that works with humans. This article was really moving to me. I think it’s because it seems to suggest that these animals have a richer emotional life than we might sometimes give them credit for.

The Article

6 thoughts on “Canine PTSD

  1. I was just reading this article! I agree that it shows that maybe animals feel more than we think. Definitely gives me something to think about.


  2. Reesa, this is great! Thanks for sharing. It definitely suggests that dogs may be more emotional than we think. It also, I think, provides some evidence that dogs have a self!


  3. Wow I would have never predicted dogs to respond in such a similar manner as humans. I agree with Taylor and this definitely gives voice to the idea that dogs may have a self and may be more consciously in tune than some might think.


  4. This is really interesting! And I’ve been trying to find a way to prove all semester that animals are capable of having a self/consciousness. But are they conscious of having PTSD? Or does their fear response happen automatically? Are all humans that suffer PTSD conscious of it? I suppose that in order to get a diagnosis and treatment they would probably have to be.


  5. From personal experience I would suggest that all humans who have PTSD are not conscious of it. Living with PTSD becomes a way of life. In my case it was a severe worsening of the symptoms (as a result of a major triggering event) that led me to treatment and diagnosis. I find this article about dogs very interesting. It makes a lot of sense to me. Thanks!


  6. Since there are so many different breeds of dogs, I wonder if certain breeds are more susceptible and vulnerable to PTSD. It’s so interesting to me that psychology invests so much time studying primates and rats (all for good reasons), but I’d like to think that we are quite behind when it comes to understanding those companions within our homes. Also, how is it that dogs and humans are experiencing this psychopathology so similarly? It makes me wonder how similar our brains are built to dogs. In order to maintain the psychopathology, would one recommend administering drugs to dogs? Very interesting article.


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