Pets vulnerable to post traumatic stress disorder

Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

(WFLX) - You may think people can only suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, but actually it can affect animals.

Gina, a German Shepard, is a hard working military dog. During a tour in Iraq last year, Gina was riding in a convoy that was hit by an IED.

When she came home, she just wasn't doing her job like she used to. "She was scared of just about everything," said Joseph Musacchia, 21st Security Forces Squadron. "There was something definitely wrong."

Doctors diagnosed Gina with post traumatic stress disorder. "They suffer the same type of stress that anyone else would express."

Gina is doing just fine now after being in rehab for about five months.

As Gina continues to recover, her owner, Master Sgt. Haynes, stays by her side watching her every move knowing she would do the same for him. "A dog will give his life for you and not even think twice about it.

Master Sgt. Haynes says once Gina is 100 percent, there's a good chance she'll go back to the Middle East and continue her hard work protecting our country.

Treating a pet with post traumatic stress disorder:

  • Set up a small, secure area where the pet can get away from noise, people and other pets. This can be a crate or a laundry room or bathroom. Provide separate areas for dogs and cats.
  • Whenever possible, put something familiar in the safe area: a favorite toy, food dish or even a piece of clothing you've worn. Scent is very comforting to animals.
  • Try to get your pet to play, but at his own pace. Interactive play — chasing a ball, playing with a fishing-pole-type toy — helps alleviate stress.
  • Get back to a normal feeding schedule or other routine such as a daily walk as soon as possible.
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