At Certapet, we are a dedicated team focused on one thing: Getting those in need the help they deserve as quickly as possible. Whether from a psychiatric service dog or an emotional support animal, our easy and painless 3 step process will direct you down the path to regaining the power to live a life free from stress and worry.
The purpose of this article is to inform and educate people about service dogs, the differences between a therapy dog, another term for a psychiatric service dog, and a support dog or emotional support animal.
We relay how service dogs can help all people who experience memory and cognition issues from medications, or other physical and mental illnesses, how they are specifically trained to alert to important daily tasks, and what you can do to acquire one for yourself.
What are Health Disabilities that require Medical Alert?
Dogs play an essential role in our lives: they are our friends and daily companions. But for those with medical conditions, dogs can do much more. A trained service animal can save your life. Whether it’s by catching a whiff of nuts that could kill a person with a severe airborne allergy, detecting low blood sugar, or even recognizing heart abnormalities that could signal a heart attack, the incredibly sensitive canine sense of smell can work wonders.
Medical alert dogs can warn their owners about impending crisis situations in a variety of illnesses. These include diabetes, heart disease, airborne allergies, asthma, illnesses that cause dizziness or potential loss of consciousness when standing, and many others. And whether or not the animal detects the emergency in advance, they can provide a quick, targeted medical response unique to the individual’s needs. The Rover website has more details here.
Common Treatments and Coping Mechanisms for Medical Alert Disabilities
The most common treatments for people with health disabilities that require medical alerts are technological devices. Medical Alert providers offer various devices for the home and on the go in the form of waterproof pendants, wrist bracelets, upgraded landline phones, and portable tracking modules. This website gives detailed information about the above discussed devices.
As more and more people seek holistic alternatives when developing their treatment plans, the use of assistance animals such as psychiatric service dogs is becoming more commonplace.
To evolve with these times, CertaPet has made the process for this revolutionary service completely digital, not to mention easy to navigate. We provide a free, confidential screening test which takes less than 5 minutes to determine your candidacy. From there, you will be matched with a licensed mental health professional in your state and contacted to set up your telehealth appointment. The final step is our therapist’s recommendation, which includes a treatment plan with your particular service dog, and an official ESA letter if you qualify.
And that’s all you will need to obtain either a psychiatric service dog or an emotional support animal, based on your situation. Whether you receive a therapy dog, emotional support animal, or any other type of service animal, you’ll be taking the safer, more beneficial route that only modern holistic alternatives can provide.
What are Psychiatric Service Dogs?
A psychiatric service dog (PSD) is a type of assistance animal that’s trained to perform specific tasks for individuals living with a mental illness. These unique tasks are directly related to the handler’s disability.
Most of us are accustomed to seeing guide dogs supporting those with physical disabilities like hearing or sight impairment. However, a psychiatric service dog helps people with typically unseen, unnoticeable disabilities.
For example, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who experience panic attacks or similar challenges can greatly benefit from the service of a PSD. Those who have one or more health disabilities that require a medical alert can also find the service of a PSD to be incredibly beneficial.
Certapet’s Blog page is fully stocked with informative articles, testimonials, and data from mental health professionals. For a more in-depth overview of this complicated subject, read our full article.
How Can Response Dogs Help Patients with Health Disabilities?
Decades of research support the use of service dogs in assisting individuals with physical disabilities. In recent decades, they have become popular companions for people with less visible ailments, such as mental illness, developmental disorders, and chronic pain. Any dog can boost key neurotransmitters like dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins, and serotonin, all of which are “essential to our sense of well-being.”
Trained service animals, such as diabetic alert dogs, are able to go much further with the aid they provide. Extensive research shows how effective they can be in helping people with disabilities achieve greater independence, require less assistance from other people, and improve functioning in many areas–including physical, emotional, social, and economic.
Mental Health Benefits
Dogs are currently on the “cutting edge of science” helping to detect changes, alert to, and provide relief for many mental diseases and disorders including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, PTSD, seizures, and schizophrenia.
Physical Health Benefits
Extensive research has been performed over many decades, in many countries, regarding the physical benefits of medical alert dogs, like diabetic alert dogs, and, at this point, they are undeniable and scientifically proven.
The American Kennel Club dives deep into this topic here.
Specific Tasks Medical Alert Service Dogs Can Perform to Support Their Owner
The site AnythingPawsable has compiled a list of 100 tasks. Here are just a few:
- Laying Across the Chest of a Seizing Handler to Help Reduce Duration of Seizure
- Retrieving Glucose Kit From Fridge
- Retrieving Medication From Designated Spot
- Fetch a Beverage or Snack From Designated Spot
- Bring Phone to Handler
- Alerting Caretaker to Alarms from Medical Equipment
- Alerting Handler to Low Blood Sugar
Emotional Support Dog vs. Psychiatric Service Dog: What’s the Difference?
PSDs and ESAs are both a type of assistance animal that a licensed mental health professional or doctor can prescribe to someone as part of their treatment plan.
However, only PSDs are recognized as official ‘service animals’ under the Americans with Disabilities Act. As legally recognized service animals, they’re entitled to the following rights:
- Public Access Rights (under the Americans with Disabilities Act they can accompany their owner into grocery stores, restaurants, etc.)
- Travel Rights (under the Air Carrier Access Act, they can accompany their owner in the airline cabin and the owner does not have to pay a pet fee)
- Fair Housing (under the Fair Housing Act, they can live in housing units even if there’s a no pets policy)
- Educational Facility Access (under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, they can accompany their owner into schools, colleges, universities, etc.)
ESAs on the other hand, do not have the same privileges when it comes to public access and travel, due to new DOT regulations put into place on January 11, 2021. Many major airlines now only recognize ESAs as pets, which means owners will have to pay a pet fee. (More information on these regulations and the airlines that have changed the policies here: https://www.certapet.com/new-dot-regulations-for-emotional-support-animals/ ). However, people can still enjoy fair housing rights with their ESAs, even if they live in a no pets unit.
The reason for this difference is that PSDs have to be specially trained to perform a certain task or type of work that helps support a person living with a disability (ESAs on the other hand receive no special training – they’re just meant to offer comfort through their companionship).
To be considered a service dog, a PSD must be trained to perform a specific task (examples here: https://www.certapet.com/how-to-train-a-psychiatric-service-dog/ ), which is why partnering with a professional trainer is the best option.
We’re currently onboarding our professional dog trainers and will be offering this option very soon. In the meantime, those interested in getting a psychiatric service dog can begin the process by seeing if they qualify for a PSD through our free screening here: https://www.certapet.com/psychiatric-service-dog-screening/.
How to Get a Medical Alert Service Dog
In order to obtain a service dog, also known as response dogs, for Medical Alert you must receive a recommendation from a licensed mental health professional or a doctor. This ‘prescription’ takes the form of a letter, which will be written on your health professional’s letterhead and include their license number.
There are no limitations to the breed of dog you can use as your psychiatric service dog or therapy dog. Mobility service dogs can therefore either be chosen from a dog you already own, a dog you adopt from a shelter or rescue group, or a dog you receive from a service dog organization. Keep in mind, however, that the dog must be specially trained to perform certain tasks in order to be recognized as a service dog under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
CertaPet wants you to get a service animal as quickly as possible. And we know our services can do just that through our certified telemedicine evaluation and rapidly submitted recommendation letters. If you have additional questions, read these Healthline and Top Dog Tips articles.
How to Train a Medical Alert Service Dog
In the sections above, we touched on the different training methods of an emotional support assistance dog. Here are some more details, along with a supporting blog post, regarding the typical training of support, therapy, or service dogs.
There are two components of an effective training regimen for all service dogs. First, the General Public Access Test is performed to instill good manners in service animals, ensuring that they behave appropriately in public settings. The second step, the specialized task/work training is done, which satisfies the requirement of all PSDs to be able to perform a specific action that’s directly related to their handler’s disability.
No matter the underlying causes that require a medical alert, or how it affects which aspects of your life, this two step training process can not only create a service dog out of any dog but tailor their abilities to combat each and every symptom the handler may encounter.
The Best Medical Alert Service Dog Breeds
Any breed of dog could be transformed into a medical alert service dog or psychiatric service animal. It could be a dog you have owned for years or one you just picked up from a shelter or adoption agency. But, like with most things, there are a handful of dog breeds that are superiorly adept than the rest.
- German Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Border Collie
- Irish Setter
- Labrador Retriever
- English Setter
- Gordon Setter
The site Spruce Pets has more details here.
Are you interested in getting a psychiatric service dog?
Here at CertaPet, we can help. CertaPet is an online telehealth platform that improves access to mental health care in the U.S. with a focus on providing services to individuals who are seeking animal assisted interventions as part of their treatment plan.
We are currently coordinating with emotional support dog trainers who specialize in the service animal space and who will soon work in tandem with our network of licensed mental health professionals to make the process of getting and training a psychiatric service dog affordable, convenient, and hassle-free.
We’ll have more information available soon about our Psychiatric Service Dog Training options. In the meantime, you can take our FREE pre-screening below to see if you qualify for a PSD!
Can you have a service animal for Medical Alert?
Absolutely, yes. Service dogs, therapy dogs, and emotional support animals are trained to assist in the activities of daily living for those who have one or more physical and/or mental health conditions, including diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Schizophrenia.
How do you qualify for a psychiatric service dog?
We have a fast, easy, and stress free way to determine just that. We start with a free screening, move on to a telemedicine evaluation from a licensed professional, and finish with a personalized plan and ESA letter of qualification.
What can a psychiatric service dog do?
Under the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person’s disability.
Can I use any breed of dog as an emotional support animal or psychiatric service animal?
Any breed of dog can take to the psychiatric service training well and you can even use one you already own. However, there are particular breeds that excel in these kinds of emotional, stressful, and difficult situations.
How are support dogs trained?
Service dogs can be trained by you, the handler, or by you with the assistance of a certified trainer. A third option is to adopt a service animal from an accredited training organization for service dogs.