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8 Ways Dogs Can Help People with Health Conditions

Service and therapy dogs can help humans.

They say dogs are humans' best friends, and all dogs enrich their humans' lives by being around. Some dogs go a step further and help humans navigate through certain health conditions.

Sick Patients Can Be Calmed by Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs can help hospitalized patients by decreasing their blood pressure and relieving their stress. A study being conducted now is looking at the effects of therapy dogs on pediatric cancer patients and finding that their stress levels, blood pressure, and heart rates are lowered by canine visits. In fact, therapy dogs have a positive effect on sick kids' parents' stress levels, too (Amy McCullough, 2015).

Service Dogs Improve Quality of Life for People with Many Conditions

Dogs can be trained to provide service for humans with a myriad of conditions. Without their dogs' help, these humans' lives would most likely be significantly more challenging. In some cases, service dogs give people independence. In others, they provide emotional support. Still other trained dogs monitor people for medical complications.

Some of the human conditions for which dogs can be trained to give aid include:

  • Blindness. Dogs can learn to guide blind people, giving them more independence than they may otherwise enjoy.
  • Deafness. Service dogs can be trained to alert deaf people to certain noises, both in their homes and while out and about.
  • Seizures. Dogs can learn to sense an impending seizure in their human before the person feels any symptoms. This early warning can allow the person to get to a safe place before the seizure.
  • PTSD or emotional challenges. Service dogs can be trained to recognize the signs of emotional distress in people with PTSD, anxiety, panic, or other emotional conditions and give support to the person by staying close, engaging with and distracting the sufferer, and giving love.
  • Mobility limitations. People who are in wheelchairs or have other mobility difficulties can use service dogs to help them with tasks and to aid them in getting around.
  • Type 1 diabetes. Dogs can be trained to recognize the signs of a rapidly dropping blood sugar level in their human and alert the person, who sometimes doesn't feel the symptoms. This allows the person to treat the low sugar level before they have more severe or dangerous symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and seizures.
  • Autism. Kids on the autism spectrum can use a service dog for emotional help, and the dog can also be trained to keep the child from wandering off, a common problem with kids with ASD.

Our dogs are truly our best friends and, in the case of service and therapy dogs, they can be our lifelines or our ticket to independence. Talk with your doctor if you think a service dog would be of benefit to you.

Works Cited

  1. Amy McCullough, P. M. (2015, Oct. 25). The Effects of Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAIs) for Pediatric Oncology Patients, Their Parents, and Therapy Dogs at Five Hospital Sites. Retrieved from AAP Experience.

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