New DoD study will look at health benefits of service dogs

Posted at 5:28 PM, Jun 27, 2014
and last updated 2014-06-27 17:28:39-04

More and more veterans are turning to service dogs for help in treating their symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injuries.

Now, a new study underway is trying to scientifically quantify what health benefits these dogs provide.

The $5 million study is taking place at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland with more than 40 veterans.

The service members participating are paired with puppies that they will raise for two years.

Researchers will follow them the entire time, examining physiological responses such as heart rate and stress markers.

They will also document any psychiatric changes as well.

The study is the first Department of Defense research to examine the interactions between dogs and humans with head injuries or mental health conditions.

Congress will get an update on the program next year and supporters hope the results will guide future Pentagon and Veterans Affairs programs for PTSD and TBI therapy.