05/08/2013 12:00 EDT | Updated 07/08/2013 05:12 EDT

Study to examine whether puppies and ponies can help veterans' mental health

OTTAWA - A new study will examine how puppies and ponies can help veterans improve their mental health.

Veterans Affairs Canada is working with St. John Ambulance Canada and Can Praxis to study the use of dogs and horses as therapy animals specifically for former soldiers.

Both organizations already work with the animals for therapeutic purposes and will now connect with university researchers to better understand the benefits of the programs.

The federal government is contributing $25,000 to each organization for the project.

The soldier support group Wounded Warriors has been funding therapy dogs and equine therapy for veterans in the past and says a formal study is a huge step.

Veterans Affairs also announced this week that it's backing a two-year study of how effectively clinicians use cognitive-processing therapy to treat PTSD.