Potential Benefits of Canine Companionship for Military Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

In: Society & Animals
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  • 1 * Psychiatry Service, South Texas Veterans Health Care System, San Antonio, Texas ** Department of Psychiatry, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio *** Laboratory for the Study of Anxiety Disorders, The University of Texas at Austin Psychology Service, South Texas Veterans Health Care System, Kerrville, Texas ††Department of Psychiatry, San Antonio Military Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas †††Nursing Service, South Texas Veterans Health Care System, San Antonio, Texas
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Investigators surveyed 30 U.S. military veterans with PTSD who reported having benefited from living with a dog. The subject population included men and women aged 34 to 67, with a mean of 56.9 years (SD = 8.1), who were being treated at two Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) outpatient clinics. Participants received a questionnaire packet designed to assess aspects of their mental and physical health and relationship with a canine companion, which they completed at home and returned either in person or by mail. The packet consisted of the PTSD Checklist-Military Version (PCL-M); Beck Depression Inventory, Second Edition (BDI-II); Veterans Short Form Health Survey and Health Behaviors Questionnaire (SF-36); Dog Information Sheet; Dog Relationship Questionnaire; and Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale. Respondents indicated that since adopting their dog they had experienced improvement in several areas, including feeling calmer, less lonely, less depressed, and less worried about their and their family’s safety. These results suggest that living with a companion dog may help relieve some of the psychological distress associated with PTSD in some veterans.

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