PTSD In Dogs: A Guide On Treating Your Pups

PTSD In Dogs: A Guide On Treating Your Pups

Animal and humans beings share a lot of similar traits and behaviors. From the dawn of time nature has used natural selection to breed creatures that would be best at surviving in this crazy world of ours.

With the theory of evolution, we saw that people branched off from the rest of the mammals on our green planet and became the beings we see today.

Dog Sitting

Don't let the different tactics we used to survive, whether it be scales, fur or thick skin, fool you. We all have similar brains (no matter how big or small), and therefore we have similar emotional makeup or neural networks that make us living beings. Within the mammal families, these similarities are very strong.

If we take a look at human beings and dogs, we can see that we share the ability to feel pain joy and sadness. Therefore these four-legged fellows share that same ability to love and even the capability of being traumatized. One of these forms that can be truly traumatizing is PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Post-traumatic disorder in dogs is widespread, unfortunately. With all the puppy mills and the commercialization of pet ownership, it is one of the more common consequences.

Animals end up traumatized and abused, and these events leave lasting effects on the pets just as it would on a person.  Here's what you need to know about post-traumatic stress disorder in dogs:

The Signs

Psychological damage, unlike physical harm, is harder to see because there aren't many clear or intuitively visible markers of damage being there. In humans, we can analyze psychological damage via conversation which is one of our main forms of communication.

Owner Talking With His Dog

Sadly with dogs, verbal communication is one-sided and we are left to our own devices as to what are the indications of something being wrong with our pets. Thankfully, over the years we have learned to understand nonverbal cues coming from animals.

Dogs who tend to urinate when becoming nervous are more than likely victims of abuse and may have PTSD. If a dog shows sign of being overly aggressive for no clear reason, that could also be a sign.

Being reclusive and distant could also be an indicator or a red flag if monitoring signs of PTSD in dogs. High levels of anxiety or extreme reactions to stress are a clear indication that something is wrong and that there should be some evaluation of the psychological state of a pet exhibiting these signs.

Another notable sign of stress in dogs would be shaking. If your dog is trembling in fear, that is not normal behavior. Another sign of extreme stress is your dog’s tail between its legs or if you see it holding its head low to the ground. All of these symptoms are signs of PTSD in dogs.

How to Diagnose It?

Most of the time pets do not develop symptoms of PTSD out of anywhere; these behaviors are more than likely the result of an event based on their past. Just like us, dogs have a history, and sometimes it's not pretty. Considering your pet's journey is a significant part of finding what exactly is causing it this stress.

There could be multiple different factors as to why your dog may be acting this way, but one of the most prominent reasons is abuse.

Shelter Dog

A lot of the times the dogs we get from stores come from mils, and the treatment isn't always stellar in those facilities. Even if your dog was adopted from another owner, you still don't know how it was treated behind closed doors.

Another reason for PTSD in dogs is fighting, whether it be between dogs or other animals. Just like any other creature in the world, dogs will have their fair share of scraps in their lives. Fights between dogs can be very damaging to a dog's psyche especially if they are injured seriously.

Some dogs that live in places prone to earthquakes or even hurricanes can become scarred by those events and develop PTSD as a result. If you've ever seen how dogs scatter when thunder gets loud, you may know that dogs feel very vulnerable to the forces of nature, and this can sometimes lead to severe PTSD.


So what are we to do with our frantic friends in case they have PTSD? Well, veterinarians and animal psychologists have found treatments that work and help sooth our canine friends. Some are more effective than others but do not fear; there is always something that can be done to aid and potentially cure your dog.

One of the methods used to treat PTSD symptoms in dogs is medication. Similar to how we would give them a flea bath or treat any given ailment that may fall upon our lovable pets, there's also medication for their mental health that can help them out.

Veterinarian Giving A Pill To A Dog

One of the medications that are used against PTSD is Zoloft (for dogs); just like in humans sedative drugs relieve the pain from high-stress situations in dogs.

Another method that is very useful is the use of therapeutic herbs. Dogs can also benefit from the properties of herbs that are assigned by a vet or that can even be found over the counter. Similar to a cat with catnip, dogs can also relieve a lot of stress through herbal means.


In the end, dogs with PTSD can be helped. As masters to our pets, we need to take care of them to the fullest, and that doesn't just involve a belly rub and a walk. It also means we need to pay attention to their psychological profile and their mannerisms. 

If you see your dog having a hard time with being social or if it lowers its head out fear, the best thing to do is bring them to the veterinarian see if there is something wrong with them.

If there is something amiss, get the right treatment for your pet, whether it be medication or herbal medicine that will solve the problem and soothe the symptoms. Do you have any questions about treating dog PTSD? Let us know in the comments below.

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