Dogs who survived tsunami show signs of PTSD — much like those found in humans
Dogs that survived the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan show symptoms not unlike those experienced by humans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, a new study by a Japanese university says.
The research compared abandoned dogs rescued from Fukushima, site of the nuclear disaster, and Kanagawa, with non-disaster affected dogs abandoned in 2009 and 2010, before the earthquake.
The dogs that lived through the disaster had stress hormone levels five to 10 times higher than the dogs that were simply abandoned or found as strays, the researchers reported in the journal Scientific Reports.
Researchers at Azabu University in Japan took in eight dogs from shelters in Kanagawa Prefecture, where the 2011 earthquake and tsunami led to thousands of refugees being forced to abandon their dogs. The team took in 17 more dogs collected at shelters and rescue centers in Fukushima.
They measured their levels of physical stress by daily monitoring of the hormone cortisol in the dogs’ urine. All the dogs were later adopted by new owners.
The disaster-affected dogs had five to 10 times the cortisol levels of dogs not touched by disaster. When compared with the Kanagawa dogs, the Fukushima dogs were less aggressive toward unfamiliar people but also less attached to caregivers and more difficult to train.
They suggested that, in addition to showing similar syptoms, similar brain chemicals could be at play in dogs and humans trauma survivors.
“Humans affected by the disaster are already recovering and gradually returning to normal life,” the researchers wrote. “However, our results suggest the possibility that stress can induce excessive, deep psychosomatic impacts with implicit behavioral manifestations, such as deficits in attachment and learning ability also in dogs.”
(Photo: Shane was separated from his owner, Kamata-San,during the tsunami, but later showed up at the shelter where Kamata-san was staying. Credit: JEARS)
Posted by jwoestendiek October 12th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggression, animals, azabu university, brain, chemicals, cortisol, detached, dogs, earthquake, family dogs, fukushima, hormone, humans, japan, kanagawa, nuclear disaster, pets, post traumatic stress disorder, ptsd, rescues, shelters, stress, symptoms, trainability, trauma, tsunami