As veterans return home from war, many suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some veterans can experience flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, or depression. While therapy can be beneficial in addressing some of these symptoms, some veterans don’t have access to therapy or won’t admit that they need help. One way that veterans can better cope with PTSD is with a service dog.

Researchers have recognized that there are therapeutic benefits in getting a service dog. In a study conducted by Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine, it was discovered that PTSD symptoms were lower in veterans who had service dogs. Pet owners across the world will agree that their furry friends have helped in boosting their mood, but for veterans, the benefits of pet ownership go beyond just happiness.

Service dogs encourage their owner to be more active.

As any dog owner knows, dogs love their walks. Because of a dog’s need to exercise it helps to encourage veterans to get out of the house. Depression and anxiety, two possible symptoms of PTSD, can cause veterans to want to stay inside and closed off from the world. A service dog gives an excuse for a veteran to leave the house and become more active.

Service dogs help their owner feel more protected.

From nightmares to panic attacks, PTSD can make a veteran feel vulnerable and scared. Service dogs can help their owners feel comforted and soothed in the event of a sudden anxiety episode. Service dogs are often trained to recognize the symptoms of an anxiety attack and help their owner before things get too out of control.

Service dogs help to rebuild trust.

PTSD has the ability to affect the relationships that veterans have with their loved ones. Often trust is hard to give after experiencing the terrors of war. This often causes veterans to be more reclusive. Dogs, as loyal as they are, can help veterans realize they aren’t alone. After opening and trusting their furry friend, veterans can begin to trust those around them.

Service dogs help with the transition to civilian life.

While service dogs help to provide companionship and love to veterans, they are also trained in helping complete everyday tasks. If veterans return home with injuries, it can be difficult to go back to the life they led before. Service dogs can complete numerous tasks from carrying objects to turning lights on and off, to opening doors.

Originally published at on January 2, 2019.