Pets help people in more ways than we know. While many people are familiar with seeing-eye dogs and other commonly-seen service dogs, most don’t know that there are several types of jobs that pets perform for their human companions.
Five examples of Animal Assisted Therapy Dogs are listed below.
Seizure Alert Service Dogs
There are dogs that have been specially trained to alert their human guardians to an oncoming seizure. These animal assisted therapy dogs are most often assigned to people who have been diagnosed with epilepsy. When a seizure is pending, service dogs are trained to give the human a cue so that the human can seek assistance as directed by his physician.
Diabetic Alert Therapy Dogs
Just as dogs can alert their human guardians to seizures, therapy dogs can alert diabetics to severe spikes or drops in insulin levels. Because these dramatic changes in blood glucose levels can be life threatening, these service dogs have literally saved the lives of their owners. When alerted in a timely manner, diabetics are able to take steps on their own to manage their blood glucose levels and stave off serious complications.
Mental Health Therapy Dogs
Recent studies have shown that dogs can be therapeutic to children and adults who have autism. The typical person with autism is withdrawn and has under-developed social skills. Therapy dogs and other animals have been able to give these people something to care for and relate to, eventually helping people with autism to develop better communication, emotional and social skills.
School Counselor Assistance Dogs
Children and animals have always had a special connection. Many school counselors are taking advantage of children’s love for animals and incorporating dogs, cats and pocket pets into their practices. It’s not unusual to find a school utilizing animal assisted therapy or a school counselor with a resident office pet. Children relax more and open up sooner when they are allowed to interact with animals.
Reading Therapy Dogs
Many libraries across the country are adopting a reading therapy program. Children who struggle with learning to read are able to read books to dogs. Dog are a non-critical audience, happily lying near a child as she reads a story. When placed in this less stressful situation, reading skills in children who struggle have been shown to improve.
Animals benefit humans, offering more than simple companionship. From medical alert dogs to animal assisted therapy, dogs, cats and other creatures are being used in multiple, humane ways to help their human guardians and strangers alike.