Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness resulting from exposure to a traumatic event. Symptoms of PTSD vary, but those affected commonly experience nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance, and trouble sleeping; they may also avoid people or situations that trigger traumatic memories. It is estimated that PTSD affects about 10-30% of all United States veterans. Additionally, traditional treatment methods have an average dropout rate of 25% among military personnel. Inadequate PTSD symptom management may lead to depression, anxiety, suicidality, isolation, unstable relationships, and substance misuse. The purpose of this review is to examine the current research concerning the use of service dogs as a treatment option for the management of PTSD and its associated symptoms among veterans with PTSD. A database search was done using CINAHL, APA PsycInfo, and MEDLINE. Limited research has been done on the effects service dogs have on American veterans' management of PTSD. A total of eight studies met all inclusion criteria and were analyzed as part of this literature review. The results of this review of the current literature suggest that psychiatric service dogs have a positive influence on the management of PTSD among veterans. The studies analyzed suggest that the acquisition of a service dog contributes to lower PTSD scores and sequelae among veterans.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)
College of Nursing
Length of Campus-only Access
Reeves, Shelby E., "Exploring the Effects Service Dogs Have on Veterans with PTSD" (2020). Honors Undergraduate Theses. 815.