Having a pet, be it dog, cat, or miniature horse (all of which I have by the way), can be an incredibly rewarding experience. Not only that, but more and more research is showing that therapy animals can have a significant effect on your physical and mental health. We already know the benefits guide dogs can have on the lives of blind and partially sighted owners, but what about other health conditions? If therapy animals are something you’ve heard of but aren’t sure whether one is the right choice for you, then read on to see if getting a therapy animal could make a difference to your health.
If you suffer, or are prone to suffering, from anxiety, and owning a dog is a viable option for you then a service dog for anxiety might be a good solution. Service dogs for anxiety can provide a sense of calm, anticipate anxiety attacks and some can even be trained to fetch medication if required. They can also help with any number of the following:
– Preventing people approaching you if you are having an anxiety attack or one is approaching. Having a little extra space and not being crowded can help alleviate the panic that comes alongside many anxiety attacks.
– Providing deep pressure therapy to soothe you.
– Getting a phone, if required.
– Distracting you during an attack to help with the symptoms of an anxiety attack, for example providing a paw or licking you.
The company a service animal provides is hugely beneficial. Depression can be incredibly isolating and so the presence of an animal and taking responsibility for its welfare can be a positive step towards managing depression. There are other benefits as well, which might include going out for a walk. Although depression can leave you feeling incapable of undertaking activities to benefit yourself, if you’re acting on behalf of your service animal, it can be easier to accomplish day-to-day tasks. Going out for some gentle exercise in the form of a walk will release endorphins to start lifting the mood. Also, getting some vitamin D in the form of natural light is a proven mood-booster.
Although studies have shown the benefits of service animals for people with mental health difficulties such as stress and anxiety, they can also be for those experiencing physical ill-health. Hypoglycemia unawareness is common, and potentially very dangerous, condition for people with type 1 diabetes. The symptoms of low blood sugar don’t make themselves apparent, so critically low levels can occur unexpectedly and cause seizures or a coma. The heightened sense of smell dogs possess can recognize the unique scent you give off when experiencing a hypoglycemic attack and therefore fetch help or alert you. Though not a replacement for regularly checking blood sugar levels, a service dog can be an excellent early warning sign if other symptoms fail to present themselves.
If you are prone to health conditions, then a service dog might just be the right option for you. As long as you ensure you can look after you service animal, provide them with the best puppy food, dietary veterinary needs as they grow, and ensure you can give them an excellent quality of life, they’ll do the same for you.