Man with service dog

PTSD Service Dogs

What makes them so special?

For many U.S. military veterans, PTSD service dogs are providing remarkable life-changing benefits. That’s why Dog Chow and our Service Dog Salute program are committed to supporting the care and training of more service dogs for veterans — so that every military hero in need can find a canine hero of their own. 

service dog infographic

Help us raise awareness


Get the facts on PTSD service dogs and help us spread the word on their life-changing benefits for veterans.

The Need

For More Veteran Service Dogs


18.2 million veterans currently reside in America
1 in 3 veterans have some type of substantial post-combat mental healthy challenge
approximately 20% suffer from PTSD

The number of veterans with “invisible” post-combat injuries like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Operational Stress, Mild Traumatic Brain injury (mTBI), Military Sexual Trauma (MST), and major depression is substantial. And these injuries can often have devastating effects on a veteran’s family, work, and interpersonal life. 

Thankfully, PTSD service dogs are providing substantial help for veterans even when other therapies could not. 

The Help

Service Dogs Provide for Veterans with PTSD and Other Post-Combat Challenges

approximately 500,000 service dogs are currently on duty in the U.S.
19% of service dogs are specifically trained to help owners cope with the symptoms of PTSD

PTSD service dogs are NOT the same as emotional support, therapy, or companion dogs. Like service dogs for the blind, deaf, and physically disabled, PTSD service dogs for veterans must be specifically trained to help their handler perform tasks they cannot otherwise perform on their own. 

3 - 12 Tasks

the average a service dog is trained to perform!

The Most Common Skills

of PTSD Service Dogs

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Placing body weight on veteran to promote a sense of calm during panic attacks

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Recognizing and interrupting harmful behaviors

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Waking veteran from upsetting dreams or night terrors

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Creating a protective “buffer” to acclimate veteran to crowds and combat hypervigilance

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Retrieving medicine or reminding veteran to take medications

veteran back

Alerting veteran when someone is approaching from behind

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Patrolling the perimeter of a room for triggers and threats ahead of the veteran

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Turning on lights

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Creating an excuse to leave (often by nudging) during tense social situations

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Reteaching emotions such as love and affection

The Resources to Train

Service Dogs for Veterans with PTSD

1.5 - 2.5 years typical time to fully train a service dog
$20k - $50k cost to train & place a service dog
facts about service dog training costs

But while the investment is high, the benefits of PTSD service dogs are extraordinary.

The Benefits

of Service Dogs for Veterans with PTSD and Other Post-Combat Challenges

Some of the demonstrable benefits of PTSD service dogs for veterans include:

•  Ability to recognize and better cope with symptoms
•  Greater self-sufficiency
•  Decreased reliance on prescription drugs
•  Confidence to return to work or school
•  Reduced anxiety and stress
•  Lowered cortisol levels over longer periods
•  Reduced hypervigilance
•  Strengthened family relationships
•  Improved sleep
•  Increased confidence to be in public
•  Restored sense of daily purpose

The Problem

that is Preventing More Service Dogs for Veterans with PTSD

number of individuals in need receive a service dog

While the benefits are substantial, the ease in getting a service dog is not. In fact, not even 1% of applicants in need of a service dog are able to receive one in a given year.

Factors that make it difficult for a veteran to get a PTSD service dog:

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to train service dogs

cost to train icon

to train service dogs

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of service dog benefits for PTSD

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associated with mental health issues

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to provide ongoing care for service dog

That’s Why Purina® Dog Chow®

is on a mission to support the care and training of more service dogs so that every veteran in need can benefit from this life-saving bond.

By the end of 2022, the Dog Chow Service Dog Salute program will have donated one million dollars to help support the care and training of more service dogs for veterans with PTSD and other post-combat challenges.

By the end of 2022, the Dog Chow Service Dog Salute program will have donated one million dollars to help support the care and training of more service dogs for veterans with PTSD and other post-combat challenges. 

See the simple ways you can help to ensure every veteran in need of a service dog is able to get one.

Sources Cited

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

Department of Veterans Affairs Fast Facts. CNN. Updated March 25, 2020.

Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery. RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research.

Operation Delta Dog. May 28, 2020.

Grace, Kea. 10 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Service Dogs. Anything Pawsable. September 5, 2016.

How Companion Dogs Help Veterans with PTSD. Disabled Veteran Empowered Network. Visited May 30, 2020.

Johnson, Morieka. 6 Lesser-Known Facts About Service Dogs. June 19, 2018.

U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section

Got Your Six Support Dogs.

Trainer, Mark. Service Dogs Save Lives. Share America. September 30, 2016.

Boyce, Dan. Advocates Say VA Is Taking Too Long To Assign Service Dogs To Vets. NPR Morning Edition. November 11, 2019.