Service Dogs for Chronic Pain: What You Need To Know
Chronic pain can be life-altering, making even the simplest of tasks almost unbearable. Regardless of where the pain comes from, service dogs can help you ease your pain. Even when they can't remove the pain entirely, a service dog can keep you calm and comfortable. Moreover, a well-trained service companion can ensure that you get your medications when you need them. This may save you a trip to the medicine cabinet.
That said, it's important to know what getting a service dog for chronic pain means. These aren't your average dogs that play fetch or walk on a leash. In fact, service dogs become functional members of society that can go almost anywhere with you. While this may seem like a lot, the good news is that we're here to help.
Learn everything you need to know about service dogs for chronic pain below.
What Is a Service Dog?
Service dogs are dogs that are trained to perform a specific task for their owner. A service dog can learn to get things from cabinets, form barriers, and keep you comfortable. As long as it's a trainable task, service dogs may help. Additionally, service dogs are well-rounded, so you can have one trained for things like chronic pain, psychiatric disorders, and other physical conditions like the inability to walk.
Furthermore, service dogs have a legal designation and can follow you into restaurants and stores, or buses, planes, and other types of public transportation.
While a vest is not a requirement, having your service dog wear a vest or harness can help distinguish them as a service animal and avoid unwanted attention when you're out and about.
Can You Get a Service Dog for Chronic Pain?
Yes, you can get a service dog for chronic pain. A service dog for chronic pain can help you relieve your pain by fetching medication for you or by helping you move properly. Service dogs can also calm you down if you can't stop focusing on your pain. For chronic pain, service dogs will be trained for one or more specific tasks.
If your chronic pain results in mental or emotional disorders, like depression, grief, or anxiety, then you may also want to consider a psychiatric service dog.
How Much Is a Service Dog for Chronic Pain?
A fully-trained service dog for chronic pain will cost anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000; however, you can train your service dog on your own for free, though this can take a significant amount of time and patience.
So if you aren't up to the task of training your own service dog, we recommend having your service dog trained by a professional. For chronic pain, it may also cost more if the dog needs to be able to perform very precise tasks.
What Type of Training Is Required for a Chronic Pain Service Dog?
There are several ways a chronic pain service dog can be trained; most methods will vary based on your specific pain condition. However, the most common training that chronic pain service dogs get includes mobility support, assistance with arthritis, fetching medication and medical alert dogs.
What Is the Best Breed for a Chronic Pain Service Dog?
Any dog breed can be a chronic pain service dog. That said, some breeds are better than others, depending on your pain and what you need. In most cases, it's best to have a larger dog to help you push a wheelchair or to help you remain balanced. Also, bigger dogs can reach high places to get your medications or open doors.
Below we list some good breeds for chronic pain service dogs.
- Labrador retrievers
- Alaskan malamute
- Belgian Malinois
- Border collies
- German shepherds
These are some of the best dog breeds for chronic pain, but it's important to note that the ADA doesn't place any limitations on the type of breed.
What Are the Benefits of a Chronic Pain Service Dog?
There are several benefits of a chronic pain service dog. In fact, many of these dogs can even help you eliminate your pain or provide comfort. Aside from pain relief, there are also some other things a chronic pain service dog can do for you. We list these benefits below.
- Guiding you to a safe location
- Creating a barrier between you and others
- Grabbing things from the floor
- Turning the lights off and on
- Helping to mitigate falls/providing balance
- Barking to alert caregivers and others to potential dangers
- Moving your wheelchair
- Reaching for items that are on countertops or other high locations
- Pressing buttons in elevators and opening doors
- Fetching medications and water
These are only some of the benefits of a chronic pain service dog. Depending on the type of pain you have, your results may vary.
How to Register a Service Dog for Chronic Pain
Registering a service dog for chronic pain isn't challenging. The hard part is getting the proper training. We'll take you through how to register a service dog for chronic pain and provide some information about the cost and benefits of proper training.
How to Register a Dog as a Service Animal With US Service Animals
If you already have a dog that you'd like to train to be a legitimate service animal, you can register to receive a service animal letter from US Service Animals. US Service Animals provides free consultations for people in all 50 states. Below we take you through the steps to obtaining a service animal letter.
- Visit USServiceAnimals.org and submit the contact form.
- Wait for a licensed medical healthcare provider to call you and verify if you qualify.
What Training Is Required for a Chronic Pain Service Dog?
Service dogs for chronic pain must be trained to perform a specific task, and the task must be relevant to your condition. Other than this rule, the ADA doesn't have any other requirements for a service dog. While this may sound simple, usually it's not. We always recommend having your dog trained by a professional.
Get a Service Dog for Chronic Pain Today!
Getting a service dog doesn't have to be a difficult process, which is especially nice to know for those already living with chronic pain. Follow our steps above to get or register a psychiatric service dog and start getting help for your chronic pain today.