According to a New Study, Veterans with PTSD Who Had Service Dogs Showed Healthier Cortisol Levels Compared to Those Without
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According to a New Study, Veterans with PTSD Who Had Service Dogs Showed Healthier Cortisol Levels Compared to Those Without

The University of Arizona study supported by Dogtopia Foundation further highlights the positive impacts service dogs can have on veterans

February 14, 2024 // // PHOENIX, Ariz. - New research from The University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine looked at the impact service dogs had on the cortisol levels of veterans suffering from PTSD. The study found that those with service dogs had healthier cortisol levels when compared to those without service dogs. The research, led by Dr. Maggie O’Haire, Associate Dean for Research and Professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine, and Dr. Leanne Nieforth, with the help of K9s For Warriors and funding support from the Dogtopia Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Purina, provides further evidence of the positive benefits service dogs offer veterans.

The study assessed a total of 161 veterans who had PTSD, 88 who had a service dog and 73 who did not. Cortisol, a stress hormone that is found in saliva, was assessed at two different points in time, three months apart, and a total of 2,613 cortisol samples were analyzed. The study concluded that overall, veterans with service dogs had stress hormones more like those in healthy adults without PTSD than veterans without service dogs.

After military service, around 52% of veterans face PTSD. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a key provider for veterans, has been hesitant to allocate funds for service dogs for individuals dealing with PTSD service dogs, citing a lack of clinical evidence substantiating their effectiveness. O'Haire's pioneering research is bridging this gap.

“The goal of our research is to gain a robust understanding of the impact service dogs have on veterans and their mental health,” said O’Haire, who has been conducting research on service dogs and veterans for nearly a decade. “Science continues to evolve in our understanding of how service dogs may influence symptoms for veterans struggling with PTSD and their quality of life.”

“We’ve had the profound privilege of meeting many of the veterans we’ve supported through our fundraising efforts, and hearing first-hand how these service dogs saved their lives,” said Liz Meyers, executive director of the Dogtopia Foundation. “Their testimonials drive our commitment to support Dr. O’Haire’s incredible work, while we continue fundraising to support our veterans in need.”

“Thanks to the support of Dogtopia Foundation, NIH, and Purina, we can continue to pursue our research on the impact of service dogs on their owners and ensure all service members struggling with PTSD can receive the support they need in the future,” said Julie Funk, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Research involving service dogs and veterans further validates the efforts of organizations supported by Dogtopia Foundation, such as K9s For Warriors.

“K9s For Warriors’ mission is simple — to end veteran suicide through the use of highly trained service dogs. The success of our program, graduating nearly 1,000 Warriors, wouldn’t be possible without the important research of the O’Haire Lab at the University of Arizona. This study further legitimizes the positive impact service dogs have on veterans with PTSD,” said K9s For Warriors Chief Program Officer Kevin Steele. “Every day, K9s For Warriors has the privilege to witness the life-changing effect a service dog has on a veteran. Thank you to the Dogtopia Foundation, NIH and Purina for supporting this crucial research, allowing us to continue changing veteran lives.”

In partnership with Dogtopia’s franchise network of more than 265 dog daycares, the Dogtopia Foundation has raised more than $3 million and has helped support the training of 450 service dogs since the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization was established in 2017.

For more information about the Dogtopia Foundation and how you can support its efforts, visit If you are interested in learning more about the Dogtopia franchise in general, visit

About Dogtopia

Founded in 2002, Dogtopia is an early pioneer and innovator in the dog daycare industry, offering an experience focused on wellness, quality of care, safety, and transparency in the market. The ultimate destination for improving the physical and mental wellbeing of dogs and pet parents, Dogtopia helps our furry friends live long, healthy, and happy lives with services that holistically address canine wellness. Pet parents have the assurance of leaving their beloved furry family members in the hands of trained professionals in an environment created with the safety of dogs in mind, including spacious playrooms assigned by size and play style, comfortable rubber flooring to reduce the impact on joints and paws, and webcams for pet parents to check in on their pups. For more information, visit

About Dogtopia Foundation

The Dogtopia Foundation enables dogs to positively change our world through funding programs focused around service dogs for veterans, therapy dogs for students and employment initiatives for adults with autism. The Foundation’s aim is to identify needs, fill gaps and integrate knowledge for continuous improvement in the three areas of focus. By connecting dogs with organizations the Foundation supports, the Foundation is helping returning veterans, children and adults with autism reach their full potential. To learn more, visit

SOURCE Dogtopia


Media Contact:

Maddie LaPorta
Fishman Public Relations
P: 847.945.1300 ext. 252

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