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14 Photos That Show How Service Dogs Help Their Owners With Dysautonomia Symptoms

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For many in the chronic illness community, pets can be comforting companions on difficult days when you’re stuck at home battling a flare-up of symptoms. But for many people who live with a form of dysautonomia, or autonomic dysfunction, training a service dog to help them with specific tasks can radically change their life – whether the dog is helping their human cope with a symptom, or navigate their everyday routine.

We wanted to know how service dogs specifically help those with dysautonomia, so we asked our Mighty community to share a photo of their dog helping them cope with dysautonomia symptoms. If you have a service dog, let us know how they help you with your chronic illness symptoms in the comments below.

Here are some of the service dogs in our community:

1. “When I feel dizzy my service dog will lick me to try to keep me from passing out when I lay down. This picture was taken when I had just had surgery and I picked my head up and got super dizzy so she did her thing. She can also pick things up for me and get help if I get hurt when I pass out.” – Alexis G.M.

woman lying down with her service dog on top of her

2. “When my heart rate spikes my service dog alerts me so I can sit or lay down. She also alerts me to blood pressure changes. When I do end up passing out she licks my face until I become conscious again and if it takes more than 30 seconds she goes and gets help. She also picks things up for me, and gets me stuff when I ask her.” – Brittany T.

woman standing with her service dog

3. “Rosie provides blood pressure alerts, provides deep pressure therapy which can give temporary relief if I have really low blood pressure and also helps with the panic attacks I get, wakes me up to alarms/loud noises/etc. since the medicine I take makes me sleep through them, does light mobility work as well as counterbalance support, and licks and nuzzles me if I have a syncope episode to help me stay calm when I ‘come back around.’ She is such a source of comfort and I am so grateful for her.” – Sarah B.

service dog lying on a woman

4. “My service dog gives me so much independence. I can go places by myself without having to worry that I am going to faint because she alerts me to high heart rate.” – Aubrey A.

woman lying in a hospital bed with her service dog

5. “My service dog will pick up things that I drop that are out of reach. She also does counterbalance and forward momentum when I am not in my wheelchair.” – Charlotte H.

woman in a wheelchair next to her service dog

6. “She helps with dropped items and brings me blankets when asked, alerts to before I faint and alerts to when I have fainted to get help. Along with other tasks.” – Kayli A.S.

a woman's service dog standing next to her young son

7. “Remi is a mobility assist dog. I hold onto his harness for balance, and he’s trained to provide counterbalance as well. He can also help me get up if I fall, and knows ‘brace’ so I can lean on him for support.” – Courtney M.

woman smiling outside with her service dog

8. “When my heart rate spikes, blood pressure drops or oxygen levels drop my service dog paws at my lap to tell me something is wrong. I then know to sit down and check my vitals. We go from there depending on what is actually going on. If I lose consciousness she will go and get help. She has given me so much independence and I have been able to do things I couldn’t even imagine doing a few years ago.” – Margaret W.

service dog sitting in the backseat of a car

9. “Duke, my service dog, alerts me before having a syncope event. This has given me a newfound freedom. I can go out shopping and not have to worry that I will face plant on the cement floors. His alert gives me enough time to lay down. He also can get me water, my meds and things I have dropped. He does DPT [deep pressure therapy] as well. Don’t know what I would do without this guy.” – Devan D.

woman sleeping on the couch holding her service dog

10. “I just got [my service puppy] last month after lots of research and deciding to self-train due to my mixed needs. He is already very attached to me and so far seems to stay closer on higher pain days.” – Marybeth M.

service puppy sitting in a car

11. “My service dog in training has changed my life! He alerts when my blood sugar is low, when my heart rate goes too high and I am going to pass out, when I have mast cell reactions and when I stop breathing! Dogs are honestly the most amazing animals out there!” – Cienna D.

woman sitting in a wheelchair wearing a face mask with her service dog sitting next to her

12. “My service dog alerts to pre-syncope (high heart rate accompanied by low blood pressure). He also retrieves items I drop so I don’t have to bend over. My dysautonomia causes GI issues as well, so we have trained him to alert to low blood sugar as well. I’m so lucky to have him!” – Cheyenne U.

service dog sitting outside in front of flowers

13. “Maple retrieves things for me, and performs deep pressure therapy when I fall to the ground. She also helps with light mobility, by giving me something to hold onto when I lose my balance.” – Cassandra B.

woman lying on the floor with her service dog

14. “My service dog alerts to a rising heart rate, does a fainting response if I faint, picks up things I drop and alerts my parents if I’m unresponsive to her alerts, plus many other tasks. She’s my life savior and my everything.” – Savannah T.

service dog sitting outside

Originally published: June 14, 2018
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