Brave Military Dogs Also Suffer From PTSD

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Brave Military Dogs Also Suffer From PTSD

January 27, 2014

WALTER K. HUNT HERE FOR P-Z NEWS.

OUR BRAVE CANINE FRIENDS IN THE MILITARY ARE NOT IMMUNE TO THE STRESSES OF COMBAT. CANINE PTSD IS BECOMING A COMMON DIAGNOSIS BY VETERINARIANS TREATING DOGS WHO HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO GUNFIRE, EXPLOSIONS AND OTHER COMBAT SCENARIOS OVERSEAS.

 

THERE ARE NEARLY 3,000 DOGS IN ACTIVE MILITARY DUTY, UP NEARLY ONE THIRD IN THE LAST DECADE.  LIKE THEIR HUMAN COUNTERPARTS, THESE SOLDIERS HAVE ENDURED UNIMAGINABLE STRESSES IN THE LINE OF DUTY. FOR MORE ON THE CURRENT THERAPIES FOR THESE WONDERFUL CANINES, READ ON. THIS IS WALTER K. HUNT SALUTING OUR HEROIC HEROES, BOTH FURRY & SMOOTH.

 

Dogs have become an integral part of military actions for over fifty years.  There are famous hero dogs like Rin Tin Tin and quiet heroes like the dog who helped take down Osama bin Laden. However, dogs, much like their fighting human counterparts, are not immune to the stresses in the field of battle.

 

Combat canines returning from battle are exhibiting the same symptoms as the humans with which they serve.  It is now estimated that at least 10% of the dogs sent to Iraq and Afghanistan have developed PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  Veterinarians first suspected PTSD as early as 2007 and since that time, the disorder has become an official, diagnosable medical condition.  Like in humans, it can shatter a dog’s nerves and undercut battle effectiveness or render them unfit for military life.

 

Military dogs have rigorous training and can jump out of helicopters, repel down walls, swim long distances and sniff out bombs from up to two miles away.  They are often the first through the door of a dangerous situation in order to protect the human unit that they serve.  They hunt down the enemy, help to clear buildings and sniff out non-metallic mines. But the constant gunfire, explosions and other combat scenarios take their toll.  Dogs in the field who are suffering from PTSD begin to miss dangers.  Some become clingy or aggressive.  Some refuse to perform duties with which they were once comfortable, or become hyper-vigilant and set off false alarms.

 

The number of working dogs on active duty has risen to 2,700, up nearly a thousand in just over ten years.  The Holland Hospital (the canine Walter Reed) treat animals returning to the U.S. and are constantly conducting consultations to military veterinarians in the field to treat PTSD. Care usually begins by taking a dog off patrol and treating them with play time, exercise and gentle obedience training.  Medications such as Xanax have also shown promise.

 

The United States War Dog Association in Burlington, N.J., regularly sends care packages to war dogs and their handlers who are deployed overseas.  This wonderful organization accepts donations to help keep these courageous four legged soldiers healthy and well cared for. For more information on these great dogs and how you can help, go to uswardogs.org.  pz

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