Dogs of war face post- traumatic stress too


The call came into the behavior specialists here from a doctor in Afghanistan.

His patient had just been through a firefight and now was cowering under a cot, refusing to come out.

Apparently even the chew toys hadn’t worked.

Post-traumatic stress is a reality for many two-legged troops returning from battle.

Now we learn that combat affects the dogs of war as well.

The New York Times reports that canine members of the armed forces who occupy dangerous spots on the frontlines, sniffing out explosives and tracking down enemies, are suffering similar stresses as their human counterparts. 

Veterinarians are only now beginning to identify PTSD in dogs and believe it occurs in five percent of 650 military dogs deployed, the Times reports.

And now they are working to find out how best to treat it. Some dogs have been successfully treated with desensitizing therapy and sometimes medication, while others must be retired or shifted to other jobs.

Some experts question whether PTSD in dogs can be cured.

Dr. Nicholas H. Dodman, director of the animal behavior clinic at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tuft University, says probably not.

“It is more management,” he told the Times. “Dogs never forget."

Hat tip/Sis and NJ CAPSA's Libby Williams

Photo: NY Times/Bryce Harper