For veterans suffering from PTSD, adopting a canine companion can have a great impact on their quality of life. Many find that having a service dog or emotional support dog, helps them manage the symptoms of PTSD. But, what is the difference between the two?

A service dog is trained to do specific tasks for someone with a disability. They may guide a person with vision problems, pick up items for someone in a wheelchair, or provide an alert before a seizure. Service dogs are granted special rights by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) that allow them to accompany their owners in public places that normal pets are not allowed to go. PTSD service dogs may be trained to awaken the owner from a nightmare, provide a distraction during an anxiety attack, or remind the veteran to take needed medication.

An emotional support dog is a dog that assists the owner in dealing with a mental disability, by providing emotional support during daily activities. While they do not have all of the special rights granted to service dogs, they are sometimes allowed special consideration in public places, depending on the circumstances. A normal pet can be an emotional support dog, if the veteran gets a letter from a mental health provider stating that a mental disability exists, and the dog is needed for the veteran’s health and well being.

Owning a service or emotional support dog can have a tremendous impact on the quality of life for a veteran suffering from PTSD. Painted Paws for Veterans offers service dog training, and assists veterans, and veteran families, with adopting canine companions from rescues and animal shelters for emotional support. We strongly believe that everyone can benefit by owning or spending time with a dog.