Paw-sitive Impact: Benefits of a Service Dog for Lupus Patients

June 22, 2023

Paw-sitive Impact: Benefits of a Service Dog for Lupus Patients

We recognize the physical and emotional challenges you may face in your journey with lupus. This autoimmune disease is complex and unique to each individual, with daily obstacles that can sometimes feel overwhelming. While there are various coping mechanisms and treatments available, an often-overlooked aspect of support is the companionship of service dogs.

Service dogs are specifically trained to assist people with disabilities, offering a myriad of physical and emotional benefits. For those battling lupus, these four-legged helpers can become a significant part of their support system. Today, we’re explore the many ways in which service dogs can positively impact the lives of lupus patients.

Physical Assistance:

  • Task Assistance: Lupus can sometimes lead to physical limitations and difficulties with mobility. Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks that their handler may struggle with, such as retrieving dropped items, opening doors, or even helping with balance and stability during walking.
  • Alerting for Flare-ups and Changes: Some service dogs can be trained to recognize changes in their handler’s physical condition and alert them before a flare-up. This can allow the patient to take precautionary measures and avoid potential complications. Some service dogs can detect changes in their handler’s body odor or behavior, alerting them to an impending lupus flare-up. This early warning allows individuals to take necessary precautions or seek medical attention promptly.
  • Medication Reminders: For individuals who take daily medication, a service dog can be trained to remind their handler when it’s time to take their medicine, ensuring consistent adherence to medication regimens.
  • Medication Retrieval: Service dogs can be trained to retrieve medications, water bottles, or other essential items, reducing the need for individuals to exert themselves or navigate their home repeatedly.
  • Mobility Support: Dogs can be trained to provide balance assistance, stability during ambulation, or help with standing up and sitting down, especially during periods of joint pain or weakness.

Emotional Support:

The emotional toll of living with lupus can be overwhelming at times. Service dogs offer unconditional love and emotional support, promoting a sense of comfort and companionship:

  • Constant Companionship: Living with lupus can be isolating at times. Service dogs provide constant companionship, helping to combat feelings of loneliness and offering unwavering emotional support.
  • Mental Health Benefits: Numerous studies highlight the positive impact of service dogs on mental health. The companionship of a service dog can help reduce anxiety, decrease feelings of depression, and boost overall mood.
  • Stress and Anxiety Reduction: The act of petting a dog has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce stress hormones. This can be particularly beneficial for lupus patients, as stress can often trigger lupus flares. Dogs have a calming effect and can help reduce stress and anxiety levels. The presence of a service dog can provide emotional grounding during challenging moments or medical appointments.
  • Decreased Feelings of Isolation: Lupus can sometimes lead to social isolation. Service dogs act as social catalysts, attracting positive attention and facilitating social interactions, which can help individuals feel more connected to their community.
  • Emotional Bonding: The bond between a lupus patient and their service dog can be deeply therapeutic. This strong emotional connection provides a source of love, acceptance, and understanding, easing feelings of loneliness or depression.

Encouraging Routine and Exercise:

  • Encouraging Regular Exercise: Regular, gentle exercise is beneficial for individuals with lupus. A service dog can motivate their handler to take daily walks, thereby promoting physical activity in a fun and enjoyable way.
  • Providing Structure: The routine required in caring for a service dog—regular feedings, grooming, and exercise—can provide structure and routine to a lupus patient’s day, which can be therapeutic and beneficial for mental health.

Safety and Security:

Service dogs offer an added layer of safety and security for lupus patients:

  • Response to Emergencies: Trained service dogs can be taught to alert others in case of medical emergencies, such as seizures or falls. Their quick response can expedite necessary assistance and potentially save lives.
  • Enhanced Confidence: The presence of a service dog can increase a lupus patient’s confidence and sense of security when venturing out in public, knowing that their canine companion is trained to help and support them.

While the benefits of service dogs for lupus patients are plentiful, it’s important to remember that having a service dog is also a major responsibility. The decision to get a service dog should be thoroughly discussed with family members and healthcare providers. If you’re considering this path, organizations specializing in service dogs for people with disabilities can provide more information and help determine if a service dog is the right fit for you.

Does Everyone with Lupus Qualify for a Service Dog?

Not everyone who has been formally diagnosed with lupus is going to qualify for a service dog. The good news is that even if you have been denied by your medical professional, you can qualify for an emotional support dog.

While an ESA is different than a service dog, with the right certification and registration, you can still enjoy many benefits, including being able to live with your ESA in almost any housing, and having them be exempt from breed or weight restrictions, as well as from pet deposits, pet rent, and pet frees. While they aren’t granted public access legally, you may be able to take your emotional support animal with you on certain airlines, in hotels, or in other places of business if you ask in advance.

How to Get a Service Dog for Lupus

If you’re interested in obtaining a service dog or emotional support animal because of lupus, the first step is to visit your doctor. If he or she agrees that you would benefit from one of these service animals, contact the experts at www.usserviceanimals.org. A service dog or an emotional support animal can do so much for a paitent who has difficulty with a medical condition or mental health challenge. If you have questions or want to learn more about how and ESA or service dog can benefit you or loved one, contact www.usserviceanimals.org directly.

Living with lupus is a journey with many ups and downs, but you don’t have to walk it alone. With their loyal companionship and trained skills, service dogs can offer invaluable support, enhancing the quality of life for lupus patients.

At Lupus LA, we are always here to help provide resources, support, and information for our community. Remember, you are not alone in this journey. To connect with our team for 1:1 support, contact us at info@lupusla.org.