Adopting a companion dog helps veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder in a pilot randomized trial.

Stern, S. L., Finley, E. P., Mintz, J., Jeffreys, M. D., Beaver, B. V., Copeland, L. A., Seawell, M. D., Bridgeman, C., Hamilton, A. B., Mata-Galan, E. L., Young-McCaughan, S., Hatch, J. P., Allegretti, A. L. C., Hale, W. J., & Peterson, A. L., for the STRONG STAR Consortium.
May 31, 2022

Society & Animals. Advance online publication.

Despite significant treatment advances, many military veterans continue to suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and associated symptoms, suggesting a need for new interventions. This pilot trial examined the change in psychological symptoms of 19 veterans in treatment for PTSD who were randomized either to adopt a dog immedi- ately from a Humane Society shelter (n = 9) or to a three-month waitlist followed by dog adoption (n = 10). The dogs were companion dogs, not service animals. The investiga- tors analyzed quantitative assessments using mixed regression models with repeated measures. All veterans also participated in periodic semi-structured interviews. The study results showed companion dog adoption to be a feasible adjunctive intervention that helped improve PTSD and depressive symptoms for most participants. These findings suggest that this is a promising approach that is worthy of further study.