Can a Service Dog Help Someone with MS?

Can a Service Dog Help Someone with MS?

Even the most basic daily tasks can be a challenge for someone with Multiple Sclerosis. The nerve damage associated with the disease can cause fatigue, balance issues, and mobility impairment, all of which can make a simple trip across the room an exhausting physical ordeal.

That’s why a trained service dog can be so valuable to someone with MS. Like most dogs, service dogs provide comfort and companionship, boosting mental health and making it easier to engage with the world at large.

However, a service dog can perform many other vital functions that allow someone with MS to maintain their independence. That includes basic chores like turning on the lights, picking things up off the floor, or retrieving items from another room, as well as more direct support for people with mobility issues. For instance, a trained service dog can help pull a wheelchair up a ramp or onto the sidewalk, and can generally alleviate some of the physical load of navigation.

A service dog can also assist with balance. Equipped with a special harness, a balance dog can help someone into or out of bed (or a chair) and steady them as they move about the house. That allows someone with MS to move from room to room without exerting nearly as much effort (or even having to open a door), allowing them to take care of themselves and reducing the degree to which they need to rely on other people.

For that reason, a service dog for someone with MS will usually be a large breed like a Great Dane or a Golden Retriever. Simply put, a bigger dog is better able to support the weight of its human owner. That’s essential for someone who could suddenly become unsteady or lose their balance. A well trained service dog is a literal crutch, providing stability, preventing unexpected falls, and making it possible for someone with MS to get around safely and effectively.

If an accident does happen, a service dog can alert other people to an emergency, making sure their owner gets the help they need if something goes wrong. That provides valuable peace of mind when dealing with a condition like MS, which can be extremely unpredictable.

Those physical and mental health benefits make a service dog well worth considering for anyone with Multiple Sclerosis. A canine friend can reduce anxiety and make MS patients feel more secure, allowing them to focus on something other than the disease. Phrased differently, a service dog gives you the opportunity to live the life you want to live, with as much independence as possible.

Many charitable organizations provide service dogs (or funding) for people with disabilities, so don’t be afraid to reach out to your local support network to find out of a service dog makes sense for you!  

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