Why Support Dogs Help Veterans Resolve Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

By  //  February 25, 2021

Dogs are famous for the help they provide to humans, either as service dogs, the renowned guide dogs, or working in animal-assisted therapies. They have been very effective in combating problems such as loneliness of old age or alcoholism.

Likewise, a type of companion animal is not strictly therapy, but that provides excellent benefits to people’s health and well-being, emotional support animals.

A conjunction between these variants of dogs that work for the betterment of people would be the service dogs that help war veterans combat the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder induced by veterans emotional and psychological consequences.

These dogs offer ” innumerable benefits “, according to the American publisher Family Features, these dogs offer ” innumerable benefits ” when it comes to fighting post-traumatic stress and can play a fundamental role in rebuilding and uniting families once the service of the military.

Many war veterans (the US National Institutes of Health put them at 30%) experience post-traumatic stress disorder. However, only 40% of them seek help.

Can dogs help you get over PTSD?

There are many studies where it has been proven that having pets – dogs, mainly – can bring great benefits to people’s overall health.

One of the most recent findings indicates that having a dog as a pet can significantly help people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is a serious mental disorder characterized by the inability to recover after experiencing or witnessing a frightening event. This disorder significantly affects the quality of life of people who suffer from it and the people around them.

Treatment for this disorder mainly includes therapeutic aid and antidepressant medications. However, a recent study found that having a service dog as a pet could also help significantly.

This is because the presence of dogs can help reduce the levels of cortisol, the so-called stress hormone.

“Research suggests that the presence of a service dog are the dogs that help with PTSD reduce clinical symptoms of PTSD and improve the patient’s quality of life,” shared Maggie O’Haire, study co-leader and assistant professor of human-animal interaction at the School of Medicine. Veterinarian at Purdue University, Indiana, USA.

Also, “having a service dog was also associated with less anger, less anxiety and better sleep”, he added.

According to the expert, caring for a pet helps people feel less scared, more self-reliant and self-confident. By owning a pet, “you can prove to yourself that you can take care of another living creature, and it ensures that you can take care of yourself,” he stressed.

Reduce the need for medicines

Service dogs are trained to help veterans achieve a better quality of life, which should not be wrong with military dogs that are highly effective since veterans have lower levels of depression and anxiety and are hospitalized less frequently.

These dogs reduce social anxiety, decrease dependence on prescription drugs, help veterans return to work or attend college, decrease loneliness and stress, strengthen personal relationships, and provide security, protection, and unconditional love.

Among the many tasks that dogs perform that improve veterans’ health and well-being are turning on lights and opening doors before they get home, shoving, pawing or licking to interrupt flashbacks or nightmares.

Also, they can use body weight to ease panic; retrieve medicine bags or a list of numbers to call during a medical emergency; provide security and reduce hypervigilance in public places, or help with mobility and pick up dropped items.

What are service dogs?

Dogs that have been individually trained to help people with mental problems are called ‘service dogs’. These dogs are specifically trained to help people with a mental illness similar to how guide dogs are trained to help the blind.

“In a way, we could all use a psychiatric service or a therapeutic dog because of the incredible amount of stress we are under,” said American psychiatrist Carole Lieberman.