• Dr. Rhesa Houston

Collaborating to support individuals using PTSD service dogs


#LetsTalkTuesday

PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder), is a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event. In honor of U.S. National PTSD Day on June 27th, Assistance Animals Consulting is discussing how our veterinarians collaborate and support individuals using PTSD service dogs.


At Assistance Animals Consulting, we are veterinarians, recognized experts uniquely qualified to serve the community by providing resources for education, behavioral understanding, and guidance regarding working animals.


The veterinarians at Assistance Animals Consulting do not prescribe service dogs. Our veterinarians begin our collaborative process after the prescription for a service dog is given. If a mental health professional has determined their patient can benefit from the use of a support animal like a service dog, the veterinarians at Assistance Animals Consulting will then begin our collaboration process.


The initial collaboration begins with the prescribing healthcare professional. We collaborate with the prescribing healthcare professional and support discussions surrounding therapy goals for a patient who will be using a support animal. After discussing the therapy goals, we collaborate to discuss the specific training needs for the service dog supporting the individual with PTSD. We also discuss the best options for size, breed and age of the service dog for their patient relative to the therapy goal. As veterinarians, we bring a unique skill set and viewpoint to the management of patient care. We address issues in a comprehensive and integrated care plan to facilitate a successful partnership between the patient and working animal.


The second step in the collaboration process occurs with the patient/handler of the service dog. In this collaborative process we discuss:

  1. Options for size, breed and age of service dog

  2. The cost of annual veterinary care

  3. Basic dog care/needs

  4. Specific training needs for their PTSD service dog

  5. Referrals for reputable PTSD service dog trainers

By collaborating with the patient/handler during this process it helps to ensure the patient/handler is able to provide a safe, caring home for a dog, as well as ensures the health and welfare of the service dog. Lastly, it provides structured guidance for the training needs of the PTSD service dog. As veterinarians, we are advocates for the working animal. It is necessary to educate the patient/handler on their service dog’s basic needs to create a successful relationship for both human and animal.


In the third and final step of the collaboration process, our veterinarians communicate with the service dog trainers. In this collaboration, we discuss the specific training needs for the PTSD service dog. We also inform the trainers we will evaluate the service dog after they have been trained to ensure it has been trained for its specific task related purpose. We provide this collaborative process to provide clear, cohesive understanding of our therapy goals. A proper evaluation reduces the liabilities of the prescribing physician and patient/handler. A well trained PTSD service dog enhances the patient/handler’s safety and the safety of the public. Our veterinarians are trained to recognize appropriate and inappropriate service dog behavior.


Assistance Animals Consulting, we collaborate, evaluate, educate and advocate for successful human animal partnerships and interactions. Our veterinarians are here to support individuals using PTSD service dogs. Contact us, let’s talk about how we can support you!


#NationalPTSDday

#AssistanceAnimalsConsulting

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