Canine Critical Care

Alie-Jean B., Student Help

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Have you ever come upon a service dog and couldn’t resist the urge to go up and pet it because it makes you feel good inside? I mean how can you ignore those wet nosed, fur covered, lovable creatures? After all, there is scientific evidence that animals do indeed help to reduce stress.  In fact, people who own pets live longer and are healthier.  But even if you are tempted, do not pet them because they are working!

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a service animal is any dog that is “individually trained to perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” These disabilities can range from a panic disorder to diabetes to a seizure disorder or brain injury. Most people don’t realize how critical these animals are to the health of their handler; they are often the lifelines for over 387,000 people!

Service dogs not only help reduce stress, they save lives.  A Diabetic Service Dog can sense low blood sugar by smelling its owner’s breath.  Seizure Alert Dogs are able to warn their owners of an impending seizure up to two hours beforehand by using their noses. They are also trained to get help and even dial 911. Psychiatric Service Dogs can alert to anything from a panic attack to a psychotic episode. One major task these dogs are trained for is deep pressure therapy.  This is where a dog presses against your chest and stomach to lower blood pressure and relieve stress during a panic attack.

Service Dogs are essential to the health or their owners. The next time you see a service dog, be mindful that they are on the job working hard to keep their owners safe.

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