VCA Animal Hospitals

Can a dog be good for your mental health?

Published: Aug 30, 2012

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Most dog owners know that the old saying that a dog is man's best friend is true. And now, the medical community seems to be embracing the use of pets to help human health more than ever before.

According to a recent report from CNN, an increasing number of Americans are getting dogs to help with people's mental states. They're known as psychiatric service dogs, and they can help individuals deal with a wide range of conditions including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

'He knows if something is wrong, and I can't figure it out," Sgt. Charles Hernandez, who is retired from the U.S. National Guard and suffers from PTSD, told the news provider about his service animal, Valor.

But these animals can also provide help for those who suffer from other mental problems. According to the Psychiatric Service Dog Society (PSDS), specially-trained animals can aid individuals who are bi-polar, depressed, obsessive compulsive and schizophrenic, as well as those who suffer from extreme anxiety or panic attacks.

Experts say that many breeds and sizes of dogs can function as psychiatric service dogs. However, the PSDS says breeds that commonly have breathing problems such as the Boxer, Pekinese, Pug, Bulldog and Shih-Tzu are not recommended. Additionally, those interested in obtaining a service dog should consider that a large animal may make certain tasks, such as traveling with your dog, difficult.

While obtaining a service dog can be a time-consuming endeavor, it's important for anyone who intends to get a helpful pet consider the responsibilities of caring for an animal and maintaining his or her optimum pet health beforehand.

A yearly physical exam at a veterinary hospital is recommended regardless of breed. Speak to a vet with any specific questions or concerns about a particular breed.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.