War Dogs Are Taking Xanax for Canine PTSD

By
This photograph taken August 14, 2011 shows US Army Staff Sergeant Lindsey Thompson of US Forces Afghanistan K-9 unit holding Mayo, a German Shepherd as they prepare to board a convoy of armored vehicle from Forward Operating Base Pasab for an overnight ground assault mission in Maiwand district in Kandahar province. Mayo who has a rank of Technical Sergeant is a military working dog trained for patrol and find bombs and improvised explosive devices (IED) is currently deployed in southern Afghanistan saving lives of coalition forces in its war against Taliban insurgents. AFP PHOTO / ROMEO GACAD (Photo credit should read ROMEO GACAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Mayo, a German Shepherd (middle). Photo: ROMEO GACAD/2011 AFP

America's heroic war dogs, who help fight for freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan out of sheer patriotism and uncontrollable Pavlovian impulses, are suffering from PTSD just as much as their less-adorable human comrades, the Times reports:

Though veterinarians have long diagnosed behavioral problems in animals, the concept of canine PTSD is only about 18 months old, having come into vogue among military veterinarians who have been seeing patterns of troubling behavior among dogs exposed to explosions, gunfire and other combat-related violence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Like humans with the analogous disorder, different dogs show different symptoms. Some become hyper-vigilant. Others avoid buildings or work areas that they had previously been comfortable in. Some undergo sharp changes in temperament, becoming unusually aggressive with their handlers, or clingy and timid. Most crucially, many stop doing the tasks they were trained to perform.

With therapy and sometimes even Xanax (seriously), some of these elite dogs can function normally again. But half of them will be given an early retirement. Which is fine with the dogs, we're sure.