Service Dogs help people with a wide range of disabilities to live fuller, more independent lives. Some disabilities are visible, such as a mobility impairment, whereas others, like many neurological or psychiatric disabilities, are “invisible,” and cannot simply be seen. Read on to learn about the types of disabilities Service Dogs assist with!
Service and Assistance Dogs are often defined by their job, or by the type of Service Dog group they fall into. “He’s a Seizure Assistance Dog,” or “He’s a brace dog,” someone might say. However, the types of disabilities a Service Dog can assist with is more rarely discussed.
There are an untold number of disabilities, but nearly all of them fit into one of 4 categories: physical disabilities, intellectual/developmental disabilities, sensory disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. Some organizations also include neurological disabilities as a 5th category. Others define neurological disabilities based on their effects, and whether those effects are physical, sensory, or developmentally based.
Service Dogs work to help people with disabilities complete daily tasks, chores, and activities they’re unable to do on their own due to their disability. Since each person with a disability has different needs, every Service Dog team is unique. Some Service Dogs perform many tasks to help their person, and others only do one or two things.
Below, you’ll find a few of the disabilities Service Dogs commonly are trained to assist with, broken down by type or category.
Service Dogs For Physical Disabilities
- Muscular Dystrophy
- Spinal Bifida
- Cerebral Palsy
- Mobility impairments of the upper or lower limbs
- Ambulation issues
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Loss of Limb(s)
- Osteogensis Imperfecta
- Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
- Cardiac & Respiratory Disabilities
- Life Threatening Allergies
Service Dogs For Psychiatric Disabilities
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) / Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
- Bipolar Disorder
- Major Depressive Disorder
- General Anxiety Disorder
- Brain Disorders & TBI
Service Dogs For Sensory & Neurological Disabilities
- Sensory Processing Disorder
- Debilitating Migraines
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Visual Impairment
- Hearing Impairment
- Temperature Regulation / Recognition Impairment
Service Dogs For Developmental & Intellectual Disabilities
- Chromosome Abnormalities
- Genetic Disorders
- Down Syndrome
- Fragile X
- Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
Note: This article will be updated with the types of tasks a Service Dog can perform for each disability type.