Living with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) presents numerous challenges, typically affecting someone's ability to perform daily activities which ultimately impacts overall quality of life. For some, getting a service dog is a considerable option to help alleviate some of those struggles. Not everyone with POTS feels that they could benefit from a service dog, but for those of you who are out there desperately looking for help or answers this blog is for you. Here's some of the benefits I have found in my own research when I was considering getting a service dog for POTS.
POTS service dogs can be trained to offer physical support to individuals with POTS via DPT (deep pressure therapy) and can aid in balance and preventing falls (a common problem for people with dysautonomic conditions). Once full grown and cleared for mobility aid (this happens around the age of 2 years old), a service dog can walk alongside their handler while wearing specific mobility aid gear which will help offer a stable base of support during periods of dizziness or lightheadedness. This enhances the handler's independence and reduces the risk of injury caused by falls. I plan on having my SDIT (service dog in training) Kylo take on physical support tasks once he is cleared for it.
Alerting and Response:
That nose isn't just cute for boops! A dog's sense of smell is incredible and can be trained to recognize the symptoms of POTS, such as changes in heart rate and blood pressure. With proper training a service dog will be able to alert their handlers to these changes, allowing them to take appropriate actions or seek medical assistance promptly. This early warning system not only results in less severe medical episodes but it provides peace of mind, and empowers individuals to navigate their daily lives with increased confidence.
Retrieving Medications and Supplies:
People living with POTS often require specific medications or medical supplies to manage their symptoms. Service dogs can be trained to fetch these items, reducing the need for frequent trips or reliance on others. Whether it's retrieving medication from a nearby location or delivering necessary supplies, such as water bottles or compression garments, service dogs contribute to increased independence and convenience. As of this blog, my SDIT has just learned how to retrieve water bottles on command, but sometimes he also brings them to me randomly which is as convenient for my condition a it is cute.
Living with a chronic condition like POTS can be emotionally challenging, leading to anxiety, stress, or depression. Service dogs provide unwavering companionship, unconditional love, and emotional support to their handlers. They offer a comforting presence during difficult times, providing a source of solace and reducing feelings of loneliness or isolation. Petting and interacting with a service dog can also promote the release of endorphins, which can alleviate stress and improve mood!
Service dogs can be trained to perform specific tasks tailored to each individual's needs. For people with POTS, these tasks may include fetching items, opening doors, turning on lights, or providing stability during standing or walking. By completing these tasks, service dogs alleviate the physical strain and fatigue associated with daily activities, empowering individuals with POTS to conserve energy and engage in a wider range of tasks and experiences. Service dogs have the potential to significantly improve the lives of individuals living with POTS. From providing physical support to emotional companionship, their unique training and abilities address a wide range of challenges associated with the condition. As invaluable partners, service dogs offer a lifeline of assistance and enhance independence, ultimately helping individuals with POTS to lead fulfilling lives with greater ease and confidence.