• Maureen Ericson, M.H.

ANIMALS CAN DEVELOP PTSD AFTER NATURAL DISASTERS


The last couple of months have been extremely active in climatic changes that have been affecting all of us, as we experience the chaos that these changes have brought. Major hurricanes, wildfires, flooding, tornadoes and earthquakes have displaced many throughout Earth. As people evacuated those areas many were able to take their precious pets with them to areas of safety. Unfortunately, many animals were left behind to endure the hardships of the storms, flooding, and fires to manage their survival on their own until help arrived after the event. For those animals left behind the trauma of that experience has now become part of their emotional baggage. Mentally they will hold that trauma as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, throughout the animal’s life. As animal care givers we must realize that the wounds of those experiences are invisible to us but are real to those animals. We must learn to recognize the symptoms to care for these wounds and help our animals to deal with their PTSD.


PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can occur throughout an animal’s life leaving trauma and fear that is very deep seated. Sights, sounds, or smells can trigger those traumas causing them to react in fear or shut down. They may experience separation anxiety from being left behind or not want to be crated, or enclosed in a pen due to feeling trapped and not being able to run to safety. We may see those symptoms reappear often when the animal experiences a trigger that brings back the memory of that traumatic experience.


Learning to recognize the triggers and helping to support our animals during the times that they are having a PTSD event will help the animal deal with the stress. Here are some suggestions on helping your animals cope with the stress of their PTSD.


Recognize the Triggers:


Hurricanes and Tornadoes- Triggers may be rain, loud noises or wind, thunder and lighting, changes in the barometric pressure, and dark foreboding skies.


Wildfires- Triggers can be the smell of smoke, the sight of a flame, or excessive heat. Wind plays a big role in wildfires so windy days may trigger the fear and anxiety.


Flooding- Triggers can be rain or storms. Water, the sight and feel of it. Streams, rivers and oceans that an animal was comfortable playing in now becomes cause for concern. Even small amounts of puddles can trigger an event. Grooming may also become a problem due to the feel of the water.


Earthquakes- Loud sounds, being outside for long periods of time and being in objects that move i.e. cars, trailers and vans.


What will the Animal Do During a Trigger?


The animal may try to run and hide looking for safety. They may shiver, shake, or pant excessively or become extremely clingy or jump at you. Try to reassure them that they are safe and that you will be there for them. Create a safe place for your pet during the triggers. Many pets are lost during frightful times as they dash out the open door when you are coming or going. Plan ahead by providing a safe place for them. That safe place can be their crate with a yummy safe chew treat or in the bedroom in their favorite hiding spot. If possible stay with your pet during their stress so they don’t feel abandoned when they need you the most. Play some nice music or put on the TV to help distract them from the noises outside. Hopefully the triggers will pass quickly and your pet can relax and the stress fades.


Stress and trauma in animals can be supported with Animal Flower Essences Sprays to help release that stress. Animal Flower Essences can help support an animal's emotional and mental well being. Two of the Flower Essence Sprays I use for my animal clients for PTSD are: Flora Paws’ Trauma Relief and PTSD Recovery Flower Sprays. Trauma Relief Spray is used during the crisis and for three weeks after the event has happened. This spray helps the animal to recover quickly from the traumatic experience. I then recommend using our PTSD Recovery spray for a month after the event and during any PTSD triggered events. Our remedy blend was created to help release the PTSD, giving the animal peace of mind, allowing them to feel safe and secure, no longer afraid.


If you would like to use these products visit the product tab of our website: https://www.florapaws.com/products.


We can’t change what our animal has experienced that has caused them to develop PTSD, but we can support them lovingly through the stress. By watching for triggers and symptoms and by caring for them during a triggered event it will help them recover faster. Our animals will know that we care deeply for them and will help them move past their suffering.

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