What Health Conditions Can Service Animals Assist With?

A blind man and his golden retriever dog are outdoors on a sunny day. The service dog is helping his owner move around.

People are affected by hundreds of different types of medical conditions. Some are more impactful than others, but the underlying theme is an impairment that somehow complicates your life.

For some disabilities, a creative solution is the use of a service animal. This is a specially-trained animal, often a dog, that can help you perform the actions you may ordinarily struggle with.

Service animals can do anything from help a person hard of seeing run their errands to detecting blood sugar levels and giving a warning for someone who has diabetes. Assistance pets can be extremely advantageous if you have a qualifying disability.

Fortunately, the conditions support animals help with is an expansive list that may include an ailment you are suffering from. We’ll point out the most significant health conditions that service animals can be beneficial with below.

Impaired Senses

Arguably the most iconic use for an assistance dog is to aid with impaired senses.

Blindness is the most prominent representation of this.

For visual impairments, service dogs are particularly effective because they can watch your path and look for obstacles. They are already low to the ground and can direct you to safety if something hazardous is coming up.

Service animals can also be effective with other impaired senses like deafness and anosmia (lack of smell).

An assistance animal for deafness would alert an owner to an alarm going off. A dog for anosmia may be used to smell hazardous natural gases in the home or smoke from a fire.

Seeing-eye animals are certainly most common, but any disabled sense can likely be benefited with a well-trained animal.

Limited Mobility

Those with conditions that cause limited mobility can also benefit from a service animal.

This includes health problems like arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and scoliosis. While each condition is a little different, an underlying theme is a difficulty with movement.

Service animals can be effective here for a few different reasons.

First, they can complete tasks for you so that you don’t need to get up. A good assistance pet can do things like turn the light on, open a door, grab an item for you, and carry bags for you. This directly eliminates your burden and reduces your need to move.

Second, they simplify the transition into a wheelchair. They can be used as a source of physical support to lean on as you ease into the chair.

This leads to the last benefit, which is an increased usage rate of wheelchairs. Having a service dog greatly increases the likelihood of using your wheelchair because getting into it is easier and you’ll have more reason to use it.

Mobility assistance animals are extremely versatile and can aid with almost any mobility-related condition.

Volatile Conditions

Another amazing use of support animals is for volatile conditions that require some form of intervention.

In particular, this includes conditions like diabetes and seizure disorders.

Diabetes is likely the most common of the two that is addressed with a service animal. An assistance dog can detect the blood sugar levels of their owners. When their blood sugar level drops, they can alert their owner to take their insulin.

This is an extremely important responsibility because low blood sugar can quickly lead to hypoglycemia, diabetic coma, and even death. Making matters worse, it is not always easy to detect when your blood sugar levels change.

A service dog can serve as an additional failsafe to help you take your medication. Some dogs can even retrieve it for you or seek assistance if both of you are unable to access it.

Service pets for seizures fulfill a similar role. They can quickly detect an oncoming seizure and alert their owner. This gives them time to move into a safer position.

Alternatively, an assistance pet can physically move their owner into a safer position. They can also serve as a calming presence.

These two conditions are great examples of the unique and volatile conditions with deadly consequences that service animals can significantly assist with.

Psychological Difficulties

Assistance animals are also excellent at helping to manage psychological difficulties.

Some of the most-researched conditions involving service animals include anxiety disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Animals are inherently beneficial with these conditions because of the connection they form with their owners. This provides love and joy that helps to overcome the darkness of the difficulties posed by mental complications.

Service animals are particularly effective for this because of their training.

For someone struggling with PTSD, an assistance dog is one of the best tools you can have. They can provide a grounding presence and help you feel safe.

Service animals are excellent at reminding you that you aren’t alone. They do this visually and physically. Touch is particularly effective because it will produce positive hormones in your body that can quickly improve your state of mind.

They can also assist with situations where you need to quickly leave a situation. A good example of this is a panic attack. A service animal can detect this and lead you to safety so you can calm down and reground yourself.

An assistance pet provides a major benefit to those with psychological challenges. Dogs are humans’ best friends for a good reason!

Developmental Disabilities

The last implementation of a service animal is for developmental disabilities.

This works very similarly to assistance pets for psychological conditions. A service dog for a developmental disability will also provide a calming, comforting, and safe presence for a child.

As a result, they can often better interact with the world and their relationships and quality of life improve. The most common implementation of this is service dogs for autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Assistance dogs for ASD provide a great source of learning for a child with ASD. They allow a child to engage and form a bond. They can study their service animal and learn how their actions result in recreatable consequences.

This knowledge can then be translated into better engagement with you and their peers.

It’s important to remember that a service dog may not always be the best option. Sometimes, an emotional support or therapy dog can provide the support that you or a loved one need.

A therapy dog for autism also provides a source of comfort and an avenue to help relate to the rest of the world. Service animals provide this benefit, but their advanced training suits them better to more advanced cases of autism that require extra physical assistance.

With developmental disabilities that cause impairments to mobility and cognitive function, a service animal becomes much more effective. Considering this, service animals are also effective at assisting children with their disabilities.

Closing Thoughts

Service animals are highly trained companions that help with medical conditions. Significant disabilities can impair your ability to function, move, and think, so a service animal is meant to assist with these tasks.

Assistance pets can help with many different health conditions. A few common categories include impaired senses, conditions that limit mobility, volatile conditions, psychological difficulties, and developmental disabilities.

The benefit of animals to humans is undeniable. They cannot fix, treat, or cure a health condition, but they can certainly make life more enjoyable!


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