Service Dogs and Proven Treatments for Veterans with PTSD

Post author: Dr. Eric Arzubi |
June 13 2024
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Service Dogs and Proven Treatments for Veterans with PTSD

Researchers paired specially trained service dogs with military Veterans who had PTSD and looked for changes in mental health over 3 months.

The intervention reduced the number and intensity of PTSD symptoms while improving the quality of life for Veterans.

Ironically, or perhaps deliberately, these results were published in JAMA Network Open the day following Memorial Day and on the same day an FDA panel declined to support the use of MDMA in treating the same disorder.

The study compared two groups of Veterans with PTSD who were waiting to be assigned a trained service dog from K9s For Warriors.

Members of the intervention group were paired with service dogs while members of the control group remained on the waitlist.

Veterans in both groups continued with any pre-existing PTSD treatments they may already been receiving.

The results were very promising. After 3 months, compared to members of the control group, Veterans paired with service dogs were…

…66% less likely to meet criteria for PTSD

…78% more likely to have a reduction in PTSD symptoms

…55% more likely to have a reduction in depression symptoms

…75% more likely to have a reduction in anxiety symptoms

…66% more likely to feel less social isolation

The proportion of Veterans with suicidality in the intervention group dropped to 35% from 55%, while the numbers stayed the same in the control group.

Of note, Veterans who were paired with service dogs were 76% less likely to engage in social activity with other people.

This is an important study because it shows, despite last week’s MDMA news, our toolbox for treating PTSD among military Veterans is growing.

Last week, Psychiatric Services, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, published a study demonstrating that acupuncture is an effective treatment for PTSD.

I’m calling for us to focus on mobilizing resources to disseminate existing, effective treatments to all Veterans who need them. Now.

Photo Credit: Jack Bell Photography

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