Pain Management: Therapy Dog for Neuropathy
A dog may not only stave off loneliness but can provide help with basic tasks to neuropathy patients and their caregivers. For neuropathy patients, dogs can complement the emotional support and service provided by a caregiver in many instances.
Growing up, we always had a family dog. Even before my mom began experiencing peripheral neuropathy symptoms, she was used to having a dog. Once diagnosed, her dog was her primary companion on the days she was unable to go to work.
How do dogs help ease a pain patient’s life?
Dogs make excellent companions for patients who are alone for extended periods. A dog provides the comfort of nonverbal communication, also called emotional empathy. A beloved dog may help a neuropathy patient take their mind off their anxieties.
A service dog can assist patients with basic household tasks. As the severity of neuropathy symptoms may prevent them from day-to-day chores. A trained service dog can be taught to perform small tasks such as turning lights on and off, helping the person balance, retrieving items, and barking to notify the patient if something needs attention. A dog in the home also improves home safety.
A dog’s presence may provide a therapeutic effect for neuropathy patients. It has been proven that an affectionate pet increases oxytocin and all the benefits applicable. This calming effect may be due to the bond shared with their pet, as well as the release of endorphins that comes from stroking their coat. Patients may also feel safer having a dog.
Caring for a dog may help to distract a patient’s focus away from their symptoms and receive the happiness that comes from caring for a beloved pet.
Dog training takes can take a lot of time, skill and patience. My mom’s dog was professionally trained. Patients who don’t have the time or resources to invest in training their own dog may benefit from programs that offer therapy dog sessions on a temporary or recurring basis. So you can decide if a dog is a good fit before making such a big commitment.