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Hero Dogs Suffer from PTSD Too

German Shepherd DogA recent article in the New York Times discusses the affects of war on our canine soldiers. Just like our men and women in the military, many of our military dogs are suffering from the effects of combat, including developing post traumatic stress disorder.

There are currently 2700 dogs actively serving in the military, comprised mostly of German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois and Labrador Retrievers, and they perform a variety of specialized tasks. They job they are most known for, and most effective at, is detecting improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s, frequently used in Afghanistan.

These dogs show symptoms of PTSD in different ways. Some become hyper-vigilant. Others avoid places where they had previously been comfortable. Some undergo sharp changes in temperament, becoming unusually aggressive with their handlers, or clingy and timid. And many stop doing the tasks they were trained to perform.

So, how do you treat PTSD when the patient cannot tell you how they are feeling or what they feel traumatized about? It can be tricky, said  Dr. Burghardt, a doctor who trains veterinarians to spot canine STSD. Veterinarians and handlers must make educated guesses about the traumatizing events, but care can be as simple as taking the dog off patrol and giving it lots of exercise, playtime and gentle obedience training.

To read the full story, click here.

Have you had experience with a military dog?

About Heather @FamilyAndFur

Heather Kalinowski lives in the Seattle area with her husband, newborn son, and two rescued pups – an Italian Greyhound named Ava and a Spaniel mix named Jackson. She enjoys reading, writing, spending time with her family, and volunteering with Italian Greyhound Rescue. Google+

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