Pet therapy or animal therapy is a form of treatment where animals are used to improve a patient’s condition. The most common animal used is a dog but others including cats, horses, dolphins and farm animals are used. Studies have shown that the use of animals can calm anxiety, lower blood pressure, reduce pain and change mood. It is common for therapy animals to visit nursing homes and hospitals. Other studies have shown that having a pet at home can reduce multiple sclerosis symptoms, if the patient is able to take care of the pet or has caregivers that can help with the pet.
I have two black labs. One is 8 years old and one is a new puppy. I was against getting the puppy since I already trip over things and my mobility is low at this point. It turns out my family and friends have noticed a tremendous difference in my mood and strength since the new little fella made his entrance into our home. Probably since I have something else to focus on rather than only on my MS. Both my dogs have brought lots of love and laughter into our home and uplift me when I am down.
The National MS Society supports service dogs for patients with MS. A service dog receives special training to assist people with disabilities and the American Disabilities Act states that a service dog can be anywhere a person with disabilities goes. A service dog can help a person do many things such as open a door, pick something off the floor or other tasks.
For MS it is common to have a balance dog. A balance dog can help brace the person getting up and down and help with moving around much like using a cane. They can also wear a backpack to help carry supplies. The challenge with the service and balance dogs is that they need very special training that can be very expensive. Financial assistance is sometimes available.
Pets and service animal are very loyal companions and can aid in healing and assistance.
Do you have a pet? Do you notice your pet helps with your MS?