(NaturalNews) The health benefits of having a dog include far more than just providing their owners with therapeutic petting opportunities and being willing to accompany them on a recreational jog. According to a new report in U.S. News and World Report, dogs can be trained to do a variety of important medical services for those with chronic illnesses that not only improves their quality of life, but also helps keep them alive.
Most people are probably familiar with the specially-trained guide dogs that help those with visual and hearing impairments perform everyday tasks like shopping and navigating public places. But numerous canine groups also train dogs to help people who suffer from many other physical and mental disabilities as well.
Canine Partners for Life (CPL), for instance, trains dogs to help people with arthritis, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and spinal cord injuries, perform vital tasks like picking things up off the ground and opening and closing doors. CPL's dogs help guide people who have trouble walking by providing them with steady balance.
Diabetics can also benefit from dogs trained to detect the onset of a blood sugar crisis. Because of their highly acute senses, dogs are capable of knowing in advance that a diabetic needs assistance, which prevents a crisis from occurring. Those who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can also derive similar benefit from dogs, in that their canine companions can detect the onset of a panic attack and help to prevent it from occurring.
Canine groups have even taught dogs how to help depression sufferers find relief from their emotional pain. A 2008 study published in the journal Society and Animals found that "canine therapists" effectively treat the symptoms of various mental disorders by performing a variety of functional tasks.
And for those with epilepsy, trained dogs can detect the changes in body chemistry that signal an oncoming seizure, and warn epileptic sufferers in advance so that they can take a proper course of action.