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.
For More Veteran Service Dogs
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.
18.2 Million Veterans Live in the U.S.
1 in 3 veterans have some type of substantial post-combat mental health challenge
Approximately 20% Suffer from PTSD
Service Dogs Provide for Veterans with PTSD and Other Post-Combat Challenges
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.
Approx. 500K Service Dogs Currently On Duty in the U.S.
19% of Service Dogs Trained to Help Owners with PTSD
3 - 12 Tasks
the average a service dog is trained to perform!
The Most Common Skills
of PTSD Service Dogs
Placing body weight on veteran to promote a sense of calm during panic attacks
Recognizing and interrupting harmful behaviors
Waking veteran from upsetting dreams or night terrors
Creating a protective “buffer” to acclimate veteran to crowds and combat hypervigilance
Retrieving medicine or reminding veteran to take medications
Alerting veteran when someone is approaching from behind
Patrolling the perimeter of a room for triggers and threats ahead of the veteran
Turning on lights
Creating an excuse to leave (often by nudging) during tense social situations
Reteaching emotions such as love and affection
The Resources to Train
Service Dogs for Veterans with PTSD
An Average of 1.5 - 2.5 Years of Training
$20K - $50K Cost to Train & Place a Service Dog
18 months of dog food and treats
Hotel expenses for veterans during training and home visits
Veteran therapist expenses, workshop expenses, and class supplies
18 months of specialized training
18 months of veterinarian expenses and parasite preventative
Veteran meals during placement program
18 months of grooming and grooming supplies
Crates, bed, and toys
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 purpos
that is Preventing More Service Dogs for Veterans with PTSD
Less than 1% 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:
to train service dogs
to train service dogs
of service dog benefits for PTSD
associated with mental health issues
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.
Since 2018, Dog Chow has donated over one million dollars to help support the care and training of more service dogs for veterans with PTSD and other post-combat challenges.
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.
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.
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