Can Rescue dogs have PTSD?

4. PTSD is not just an issue for working dogs—it can develop in civilian pups as well. The disorder can be seen in house pets that have experienced a traumatic event such as a car accident.

As more military personnel have left combat zones, PTSD is becoming more widely recognized.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a serious anxiety disorder, is brought on by experiencing a highly traumatic event, such as war (explosions), death, accidents, brutality, or extremely bad weather and widespread destruction (buildings collapsing, roofs collapsing).

And many animals who survived the tornadoes in Oklahoma now suffer from PTSD symptoms. Panic, panting, fearfulness, timidity, clinging to their owners, aggressive reactions in dogs who were never aggressive before, depression, and hypervigilance (especially in working dogs and guard breeds) are some of the symptoms of PTSD in dogs. Working dogs with PTSD frequently “shut down” and refuse to work, including military and police K9 dogs.

Two components make up the regimen for these dogs: 1) medication for severe cases Veterinarians will recommend an anti-anxiety drug in conjunction with a behavioral treatment plan. When the dog has made progress, the medication is tapered off, and 2) a behavioral program utilizing SDT Desensitization entails exposing the dog to the problematic stimulus and escalating the exposure time over time. The animal behaviorist would begin by presenting the noise at a very low level if noise was the issue. Food reward is paired with the dog tolerating the noise. With each presentation, the sound is made a little bit louder.

Daily exercise, playtime, and positive reinforcement training are crucial components of the behavior plan for PTSD dogs in addition to systematic desensitization.

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Teller asserted that a combination of behavioral therapy and medication would be the most effective way to treat PTSD in dogs. “Behavioral management may involve playtime with another dog who is well-socialized, more exercise, and mental stimulation, as well as desensitization therapy, in which a dog is first exposed to low levels of stress before these levels are gradually increased to build tolerance for that stimulus. Medications prescribed could include anxiolytics, anti-depressants, or beta-blockers. ”.

Chronic anxiety, hypervigilance, avoidance of particular people, places, or situations, sleep disturbances, a fear of being alone, a loss of interest in a favorite activity, or aggression are all symptoms of PTSD in dogs, according to Teller.

Teller adds that depending on the animal’s trigger, these symptoms might not be noticeable at the time of adoption as some dogs mask their symptoms until they gradually acclimate to their new home.

Teller adds that managing canine PTSD requires patience and time. Daily interaction with the dog and regular communication with the veterinarian’s staff are required of owners.

A sad looking dog laying on a couchDr. Lori Teller, an associate professor in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, says that because dogs can suffer from psychological conditions like their human counterparts, owners can benefit from having an awareness of possible causes, diagnosis, and how canine post-traumatic stress disorder may be managed to give your furry friend the best life possible following periods of stress and trauma.

What is PTSD and How Does it Impact Dogs?

Can Rescue dogs have PTSD?

Like humans, dogs have memories of past events. We often associate these traumatic experiences with soldiers who have been in horrific wars or battles. We also find PTSD prevalent among victims of natural disasters, accidents or sexual abuse. Recent research has shown that if a dog has traumatic experiences or repetitive stress over a long period of time, he can develop an emotional disorder now known as C-PTSD. Katie Sicking wrote in an article for that recent research showed that dogs do, in fact, get PTSD. She wrote, “C-PTSD is a class of anxiety disorder that affects dogs who have experienced one or more stressful events such as surviving a life-threatening event, abuse, or combat situations.”

The Mayo Clinic defines human PTSD on it’s website as, “Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it. Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety, as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.”

Even though they may interpret past events differently than people, dogs are known to retain memories of their past experiences. Therefore, it would make sense that certain current circumstances or triggers might make them think of something from a previous circumstance. Although it is unclear if dogs actually experience flashbacks or specific memories, they do have extremely potent associations. Certain sounds, voice tones, objects, or spaces may trigger repressed memories of an upsetting or frightful past event. I wrote an article about how dogs remember their past. You can click here to read more about this topic.

What are some signs that a dog is suffering from anxiety or fear due to trauma?

Separation anxiety, excessive barking, fear of noises, fear of people or other animals, growling or nipping, obsessive or destructive behavior, and growling/lunging/barking at people/dogs while out for a walk are just a few ways that dogs who have experienced abuse or been abandoned express this trauma. These are all ways they show their stress or that they feel responsible for looking after us. Dogs are perceptive to our energies, feelings, and expectations for them.

A troubled dog will be able to tell if a pet parent is undecided about keeping them, which increases their anxiety. When adopting a new dog, many people try to provide them with a lot of comfort. What people fail to realize is that soothing a dog makes them feel more anxious. They sense your worry and believe something is wrong because of it.


How do I know if my dog has PTSD?

Panic, panting, fearfulness, timidity, clinging to their owners, aggressive reactions in dogs who were never aggressive before, depression, and hypervigilance (especially in working dogs and guard breeds) are some of the symptoms of PTSD in dogs.

Are rescue dogs traumatized?

You are not alone; many recently adopted dogs experience difficulty adjusting to their new surroundings and routines; some may even exhibit symptoms of separation anxiety or trauma. The good news is that you can help your dog settle into their new life and begin to trust you by using the right strategy, patience, and consistency!

How do you tell if a dog is traumatized?

Emotional Trauma in Cats and Dogs Pia Silvani, director of behavioral rehabilitation at the ASPCA’s Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, adds that trauma can also show up as shaking, hiding, urinating and/or defecating when the trigger tries to interact, howling, pacing, excessive vocalization, and panting.

Do rescue dogs personalities change?

When moving into a new home, rescue dogs frequently exhibit a variety of behaviors. Your dog is probably anxious in her new environment because it’s unfamiliar and she’s afraid of what she doesn’t know. Three stages of adjustment, referred to as the honeymoon period or the 3-3-3 rule, are experienced by rescued dogs.