The notion of canine post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is still somewhat new, although those of us living in the Christchurch region of Canterbury (New Zealand) have witnessed first-hand how dogs cope with extraordinary stress caused by our ongoing earthquakes.
I have one dog in my massage therapy practice who is undergoing treatment for post-earthquake stress. She shows signs of self-mutilation (excessive licking) and her owner reports that she is a happy dog when taken on trips away from home but she shows worry and anxiety when she returns. She’s getting better, though, through love, attention, and massage therapy to work on acupressure points that help with the stress response. It’s all about desensitization and it takes time.
Earlier this month, the New York Times published this article: After Duty, Dogs Suffer Like Soldiers. In this article, you’ll read that there is a specialist military veterinary hospital called the Daniel E. Holland Military Working Dog Hospital at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. There’s even a chart being used to show the acupressure points of the dog! The hospital was named after Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Holland, who died in 2006 when a roadside bomb exploded in Iraq.
Some military dogs are being retired from service and re-homed: For War Dogs, Life with PTSD Requires Patient Owners talks about one adoptive family’s approach to caring for their dog, Buck.