Ask anybody with a dog, and they’ll probably tell you that Fido is their best friend.
For some people, their bond with their dog extends far beyond being just man’s best friend. People with certain medical conditions may need a service dog to help them get through their day.
There are a lot of reasons to have a service dog. These highly-trained animals can assist with physical, mental, and neurological health conditions.
Did you know service dogs can sense seizures in people with epilepsy? Or alert their handlers with severe allergies when the allergen is nearby? There seems to be no limit to what trained service dogs can do.
Let’s take a bit of a deeper dive into seven types of service dogs. You might be surprised by what you’ll learn.
1. Guide Dogs
Guide dogs are the most well-known type of service dog. They’re often seeing assisting people with visual impairments.
Guide dogs need to have specific personality traits. They need to have calm and friendly personalities. Breeds like Golden Retrievers, Labs, and German Shepherds are all excellent options.
2. Autism Assistance
Autism Assistance Dogs (AADs) are trained to perform several tasks to assist children with autism. Autistic children will sometimes engage in repetitive behaviors or meltdowns. Their AAD can disrupt this behavior and distract the child long enough to stop it.
These dogs are also taught to prevent and protect a child who is prone to wandering away. They’ll even perform search and rescue efforts to track the child if they’ve managed to wander off.
3. Diabetic Alert
Diabetic Alert Dogs (DADs) can become a vital lifeline and provide independence for people with diabetes. They can alert their handlers to chemical changes in their blood glucose levels. Only dogs can sense the scent changes that happen during hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic events.
When the DAD makes the alert of changes taking place, their humans can then take steps to control the situation. They will then have the time they need to take their insulin or eat sugary foods before the situation becomes dire.
Some DADs are even taught to alert others in case a dangerous medical situation were to arise. They can also set off K-9 Alert Phones if their handlers need immediate medical attention.
4. Seizure Response
Seizure Response Dogs (SRDs) are indispensable to people with epilepsy. They’re able to assist their handlers during and after their seizures. They can even perform deep pressure stimulation to help end a seizure faster.
SRDs can activate emergency alarms and even fetch help in the event of a seizure. They’re also trained to remove their handler from dangerous situations mid-seizure.
It’s important to note that you can’t train an SRD to sense seizures. These service dogs seem to have the ability to detect them naturally. That said, some say there’s no evidence suggesting dogs can predict seizures at all.
5. Mobility Assistance
A dog trained to assist with mobility works by providing bracing or counterbalancing. Their handlers often have balance problems or disabilities. People who have spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, or even arthritis can use a mobility assistant dog.
These services dogs are trained to assist with everyday tasks like opening and closing doors. They can help pull a wheelchair up a ramp and even turn light switches on and off.
Mobility assistance dogs need to be large enough to support their handlers. They should be at least 23 inches in height and 55 pounds minimum. They may need to be larger than that if their human is on the bigger side.
6. Psychiatric Service
Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSDs) help people suffering from mental conditions. The PSD can stop destructive behaviors and even remind their handlers to take their medicine.
It doesn’t take much for someone suffering from anxiety, depression, or PTSD to feel overwhelmed. These service dogs are trained to help their handlers stay calm and deal with their difficult emotional states.
PSDs can mitigate the effects of a panic attack by applying their weight to their handler’s body. This is called deep pressure therapy and can be calming to someone amid an anxiety or panic attack.
It’s worth mentioning here that Emotional Support Animals are not the same as Psychiatric Service Dogs. ESAs have not undergone training to perform specific tasks to help their humans. Most of the time, ESAs are not given the same privileges that service dogs would have.
7. Allergy Alert
Did you know that around one-third of a dog’s brain is devoted to scent recognition? This unique characteristic lends itself well to the world of allergen detection.
Even a trip to the grocery store can be dangerous for someone with severe allergies. Allergy alert dogs (AADs) are tasked with the critical job of alerting their handler to any potential allergens. They are trained to sniff out things like tree nuts, peanut butter, and shellfish.
AADs are most often found in the company of children in schools. They’re able to give the child a sense of independence and their parent’s peace of mind.
This type of service dog is especially useful for people who go into anaphylactic shock. Some even wear vests with epinephrine medication inside in case it’s needed.
Benefits of a Service Dog
Service dogs improve the quality of life for their humans. They provide help in case of emergency and even with everyday tasks.
Their benefits extend far beyond physical activities, though. Research shows that service dogs can improve the emotional, social, and working environments of their humans, too.
Service dogs can help their handlers too afraid to travel feel comfortable leaving their homes. Their dog can keep them safe from harm and help them manage their condition while traveling. This article provides more tips on traveling with your service dog.
Praise All Types of Service Dogs
We don’t deserve dogs. They provide years of companionship, undying love, and, in some cases, help with our medical ailments. All types of service dogs deserve special recognition for the work they do.
If you’re looking for more health-centric articles, be sure to check out the Health section of our website.