Benefits of Service Dogs

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As applications for service dogs continue to increase, researchers at the Center for the Human-Animal Bond determined there was a need to use a standardized measure to evaluate the beneficial effects of service dogs on human health and well-being. And, while previous studies have demonstrated an improvement in the quality of life for people with service dogs, there has not been a study showing measurable benefits – until now.

New research findings from a Purdue University study – “The Impact of Service Dogs on Family Members’ Psychosocial Functioning” – funded by Elanco Animal Health quantifies psychosocial health and quality of life of service dog recipients and their families. The study adds to current knowledge by using standardized measures to demonstrate the benefits of service dogs and revealed the distinctive role that a service dog may have in the lives of individuals with a disability or chronic condition and the families of those individuals.

In fact, the results showed that compared to those on a waitlist to be matched with a service dog, individuals with a service dog exhibited significantly better psychosocial health, including higher levels of social, emotional, and functioning at work and/or school. And, significantly, the study shows that family members also benefit from interaction with service dogs.

For family members, living with a service dog was most closely associated with less health-related worry; as well as better overall psychosocial health and emotional functioning, less total family impact from the chronic condition, and better emotional health-related quality of life functioning. These findings provide evidence that service dogs can impact several aspects of family members’ psychosocial health and functioning.

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