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Morris Animal Foundation study investigates the health of post-traumatic stress support dogs
The study will look at the impact of working with those suffering from PTSD on service dogs
Morris Animal Foundation announced it is funding a new study to better understand the impact on service dogs paired with those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The project will be conducted by a team at the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work led by Kevin Morris, PhD, research professor and American Humane Endowed chair in the Graduate School of Social Work and its Institute for Human-Animal Connection’s executive director.
“There is growing evidence that pairing military veterans with trained psychiatric service dogs can reduce PTSD symptoms,” explained Morris, in an organizational release.1 “What we don't know is how service dogs are impacted. We hope the findings of our study will result in recommendations that can improve the health and well-being of the dogs engaged in this important work.”
According to the release,1 the team will examine active service dogs’ behaviors, genetic makeup, and physiology to learn if and how pairing these dogs with veterans with PTSD impacts the dog’s health and well-being. While service dogs are a therapeutic option for those suffering from PTSD, no one has really investigated how this work impacts the service dogs over time.
“The benefit of service dogs to people with a wide variety of medical conditions is unquestioned,” said Kathy Tietje, MBA, PhD, Morris Animal Foundation chief program officer. “Understanding how that service affects canine well-being is an important area of research that is just beginning.”
The study's findings will help guide the ethical use of psychiatric service dogs as well as provide more tools to track their health and welfare. This research is also part of a larger study that follows veterans suffering from PTSD before and after they receive a service dog.
Morris Animal Foundation funds new study on the health of post-traumatic stress support dogs. News release. Morris Animal Foundation. April 4, 2023. Accessed April 6, 2023. https://www.morrisanimalfoundation.org/article/morris-animal-foundation-funds-new-study-health-post-traumatic-stress-support-dogs