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On the applicability of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) as an intervention in dogs with fear and anxiety disorders after a traumatic event

, J.A.M. van der Borg, C.M. Vinke, N. Endenburg
Published: 28 September 2021

Abstract: Fear and anxiety disorders are prevalent in dogs. These disorders are not adequately resolved by current interventions, which urges exploration of additional interventions. In humans, fear and anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are effectively treated by Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). EMDR is a non-invasive and non-pharmacological intervention involving bilateral sensory stimulation while memorizing the traumatic event, resulting in decreased emotionality of the memory. We argue EMDR might be applied as an intervention for fear and anxiety disorders in dogs, adding to the currently available interventions for the field of Clinical Ethology. Particularly nonverbal EMDR protocols used in preverbal children can be applied and the setup can be adapted for dogs. Future research should focus on the development of nonverbal EMDR protocols including proper controls, and on clinical effectiveness of such EMDR protocols for dogs. Apart from behavioural measures, psychophysiological variables should be incorporated as well.
Keywords: Biology & Environmental Sciences / Biology

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