veteran with his service dog

Service Dogs for Veterans with PTSD

What makes them so special?

For many U.S. military veterans with PTSD, service dogs are providing remarkable life-changing benefits that no other therapy can. That’s why Purina 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.

statistics on ptsd brochure

Help us raise awareness

Get the facts on veteran service dogs and help us spread the word on their life-changing benefits for veterans with PTSD and other invisible post-combat challenges.

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 Brian 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, service dogs are providing substantial help for veterans with PTSD and other post-combat mental challenges in ways no other therapy can.

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 - 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 service dogs for veterans with PTSD are extraordinary.

The Benefits

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

Some of the demonstrable benefits of service dogs for veterans with PTSD 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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TIME

to train service dogs

cost to train icon
COST

to train service dogs

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AWARENESS

of service dog benefits for PTSD

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STIGMAS

associated with mental health issues

cost icon
COST

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 lifesaving bond.

Over the past three years, The Dog Chow Service Dog Salute program has raised over $735,000 to help support the care and training of more service dogs for veterans with PTSD and other post-combat challenges.

dog chow service dog salute donations to date $735,000

But we still need your help.

JOIN US.

IN SUPPORTING MORE SERVICE DOGS FOR VETERANS WITH PTSD
& OTHER POST-COMBAT CHALLENGES

Sources Cited

U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs

Department of Veterans Affairs Fast Facts. CNN. Updated March 25, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2014/05/30/us/department-of-veterans-affairs-fast-facts/index.html

Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, Their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery. RAND Center for Military Health Policy Research. https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2008/RAND_MG720.pdf

Operation Delta Dog. https://www.operationdeltadog.org. May 28, 2020.

Grace, Kea. 10 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Service Dogs. Anything Pawsable. September 5, 2016. https://www.anythingpawsable.com/national-service-dog-month-10-facts-service-dogs

How Companion Dogs Help Veterans with PTSD. Disabled Veteran Empowered Network. Visited May 30, 2020. https://dven.org/vetsrally4vets/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwzZj2BRDVARIsABs3l9IakOV8pKPY6ofKMijKUdz1UPDxG1-yfuSeOSqkaQYmApB07zFocSUaAm2xEALw_wcB

Johnson, Morieka. 6 Lesser-Known Facts About Service Dogs. June 19, 2018.
https://www.mnn.com/family/pets/questions/5-lesser-known-facts-about-service-dogs

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

Got Your Six Support Dogs. https://gotyoursixsupportdogs.org/service-dogs

Trainer, Mark. Service Dogs Save Lives. Share America. September 30, 2016.
https://share.america.gov/service-dogs-save-live

Boyce, Dan. Advocates Say VA Is Taking Too Long To Assign Service Dogs To Vets. NPR Morning Edition. November 11, 2019. https://www.npr.org/2019/11/11/778158792/advocates-say-va-is-taking-too-long-to-assign-service-dogs-to-vets