PTSD , also known as post traumatic stress disorder, has become more common, the more stress that is endured daily. Most victims of PTSD experience common symptoms of flashbacks, nightmares, frightening thoughts, avoidance, outbursts of emotions, and depression. It is quite common in soldiers and veterans who were in combat, abuse victims, and loss of family members or friends of great attachment. But what we don’t seem to notice is how do these situations affect our pets ? They are always watching and love us dearly , but can they feel the same pain we do, and possibly at an even greater extent?
In this article “Post Traumatic Stress in Animals,” there was a cat named Lola in Afghanistan with her owner when a bomb went off and spanned over several miles away, hitting their home. Weeks later, she was still shaken up, affecting her behavior, eating habits, and health. It is said that 5% of military canines suffer from ‘canine ptsd’ due to situations such as this and often adopt aggressiveness, timidness, or other behaviors that makes it difficult for them to complete their jobs on the field. So if domestic animals suffer from ptsd, can animals in the wild ?
In this same article mentioned above, a chimp named Elsom , who suffered PTSD over a build up of several traumatic events in his life. When he was 13, he mourned the loss of his mother, and at age 15, he had a serious injury occur to his arm. They said when he returned it’s as if his personality completely shifted, resulting in high agitation, fear, and isolation. Wild animals suffer PTSD from similar triggers as do most humans such as loss, stress, trauma, or abuse.
Another more well known example of this is of the famous killer whale Tilikium at SeaWorld Marine Animal Park. News broke out globally the killing of his trainer of 16 years. Everyone was aghast as to how he could kill her when they became so familiar with one another for so long. There were several videos of the life he was living and the suffering he had encountered for years. The signs were there, but nobody saw it coming. There are many more articles of instances such as Tilikium’s ,of whale killings but oddly enough these are only of inhabited orcas within national parks. This orca suffered trauma as a newborn, being torn form his mother, forced into a tank not even big enough to sustain his size that he would quickly outgrow, and had been underfed and overworked. It is no wonder he freaked out as he did, so why has nobody seen the signs ?
These poor stories should be wake up calls. Go check on your furry friends, because they do have feelings too. They need the bonding, and sometimes them resisting is a sign of stress, and we should appreciate their efforts in communicating with us instead of forcing any sort of immoral ways on them. If we wouldn’t want another human inflicting such stress and trauma on us, then who are we to inflict on those who rely on us for protection ?