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 25-28 September, 2018 | Singapore
to stressors that the victim cannot control, that are unpredictable, or are both.In addition to the purported experimental models of PTSD, a few reports of proposed naturally occurring cases of PTSD in animals have been published.
l Traumatic stress disorder was reported in an adult female wolf (Canis lupus) born in the wild and then placed into captivity. The wolf showed symptoms
similar to those of humans with PTSD, and included generalized fear, avoidance, hypervigilance, arousal, and exaggerated startle reactions.
l PTSD was reported in 2 sanctuary-housed female chimpanzees who had previously sustained prolonged captivity and biomedical experimentation. The animals exhibited a wide array of signs, including intense screaming, self-injurious behaviors, stereotypic rocking, trance-like states, ritualistically arranging
each piece of food in a circle around oneself, sudden and unpredictable aggression, emotional instability, hypervigilance, attacking one’s own hand or foot as though it did not belong to him/her, self-isolation, and hitting oneself continually in the head.
l Wild elephants showed signs that were interpreted as resembling PTSD symptoms and meeting the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, such as abnormal startle response, depression, unpredictable asocial behavior, and hyperaggression.
l Several anecdotal reports describe signs of posttraumatic stress in canine and feline survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Signs reported in the animals were severe personality or temperament changes, new phobias, chronic chewing or paw licking, and depression; trembling, excess salivation, pacing, aggressive behavior, loose stools, vomiting, lack of appetite, elimination in the house, avoidance of people, and twitching during sleep; and indelible fear of storms as well as nervousness,
fear, or aggressive behavior in response to events reminiscent of the trauma, such as heavy winds, rain, or rushing water.
l In a study of previously traumatized chimpanzees (traumatic events included maternal separation, social isolation, biomedical experimentation, or similar experiences), researchers used PTSD diagnostic
criteria adapted for children and determined that 44%
of chimpanzees in sanctuaries met the set of alternative criteria for PTSD, compared with 0.5% of chimpanzees in the wild.
l Most recently, popular media accounts and a few scientific reports have described clinical signs in military working dogs (MWDs) which closely resemble signs seen in human PTSD. Extreme behavioral changes have been observed in an estimated 5 percent of MWDs
after exposure to combat and violent events in Iraq and Afghanistan. The key to the diagnoses was that the
dogs had not displayed symptoms prior to, or earlier in, deployment to war zones.
POTENTIAL CAUSES OF PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA IN ANIMALS (CAUSES OF SEVERE STRESS)
Many sources of severe stress – which have the potential to cause psychological trauma – are relatively common in animals. These include:
1. Abuse – physical or emotional in nature
2. Aversive confinement – such as in prolonged shelter confinement and in CBEs
3. Multiple re-homing – involves repeated disruption of life events and social relationships, preventing the establishment of a secure base and sense of stability
4. Hoarding – extreme stress due to competition for scarce resources
5. Natural disasters – loss of home environment and social bonds, often including physical trauma
6. Fighting – organized dogfighting involving abusive treatment, training stress, severe physical injury that is commonly treated by the dogs’ owners without veterinary services
7. Racing – Greyhound dogs and racehorses, often severely stressed
8. Forced work – for example, sled dogs, animals in entertainment (circus acts, movies and television, marine animal parks) – may be pushed beyond their limits
9. Service and Military duty – exposure to combat and explosions, search and rescue work, police work
10. Laboratory research and testing – stress in experiments designed to cause distress as well as “routine” fears associated with laboratory confinement and manipulations
11. Physical trauma and injury – wide variety of adverse physical conditions
TREATMENT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA
Recommendations for treating psychological trauma
in animals have not been adequately developed. Research is lacking, and the variety of traumas suggest individualized treatment programs are likely to be more effective than a single approach to trauma in general. Currently we are relegated to simply treat the signs, such as fears and phobias, with standard behavioral therapeutic approaches. Future research will determine the best methods for the individual types of traumas.
References available from author on request
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43RD WORLD SMALL ANIMAL VETERINARY ASSOCIATION CONGRESS AND 9TH FASAVA CONGRESS

































































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