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Service Animals for Lung Disease

5 Jan 2016
| Under Lifestyle, Medical | Posted by | 5 Comments
Service Animals for Lung Disease

Service Animals for Lung Disease

Living with a chronic health condition, such as lung disease, can be physically debilitating. For some people, their lung disease inhibits them from enjoying their daily activities. Sometimes people might even feel lonely, angry or afraid. However, with some lifestyle modifications, such as healthy eating habits and exercise, living your life is possible. Because animals are used to help people in a variety of ways, the Lung Institute wanted to take a look at the benefits of animal-assisted therapy and service animals for lung disease.

What are service animals?

Service animals assist people with disabilities through various life activities, including picking up items off the floor, balancing people, turning lights on and off, alerting a person with epilepsy that a seizure is coming and guiding people with visual impairments. Depending on the services needed, there are many different types of organizations which train service animals.

What is animal-assisted therapy?

Service Animals for Lung Disease

Animal-assisted therapy or pet therapy is used in many healthcare facilities, including hospitals and long-term care facilities. Pet therapy is a guided, structured interaction between a person and a trained animal, and it is used to help a patient recover from or cope with a health problem or mental health disorder. Only animals that meet the stringent screening criteria can be used, such as dogs, cats and even horses. However, the most commonly used animals are dogs and cats.

How does animal assisted-therapy help?

According to the Mayo Clinic, animal-assisted therapy can reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue in people with a range of health problems, helping people achieve improved emotional and physical health. Some of the benefits include the following:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved balance
  • Decrease in heart rate
  • Improved outward focus
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Increase in mental stimulation

Service animals for lung disease?

Service Animals for Lung Disease

Walking short distances, cleaning and performing other daily tasks can be difficult for people with lung disease. If you’re on supplemental oxygen, toting your oxygen tank with you wherever you go can be challenging, too.  In the words of pulmonologist James Burrows, MD, “the benefit of a service dog carrying oxygen for the COPD patient cannot be overemphasized, as the weight is an absolute impediment to activity.”

However, service dogs can also be trained to help patients with COPD by turning on lights, picking up dropped keys and other activities. The benefits of taking the service dog on a walk can help keep a patient with lung disease active as well as increase exercise tolerance. Having a service dog can also ease stress and anxiety.

What are the risks of animal-assisted therapy or having a service animal?

The biggest risk is safety and sanitation. Most hospitals and other facilities that have pet therapy available have strict rules to ensure that the animals are very clean, vaccinated, well-trained and screened for appropriate behavior. However, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t received a single report of infection from animal-assisted therapy to date.

For a person with allergies to animal dander, participating in animal-assisted therapy or having a service animal might not be the best choice. Frequent grooming can help reduce shedding and dry skin, and keeping the animal out of your bedroom can help reduce allergens where you sleep. However, because your physician knows your health situation the best, it is very important to talk with your doctor before participating in animal-assisted therapy or before applying for a service dog.

Trying alternative treatment options and utilizing various assistive services can benefit people with lung disease. The Lung Institute offers stem cell treatment options to help people with lung disease improve their quality of life. For more information about stem cell treatment options, contact us at (800) 729-3065.


  1. Pingback: Lung Institute | Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Getting a Service Dog?

  2. PB

    10 months ago

    Hi Mary,

    Because cold temperatures can affect symptoms, it’s probably a good idea to be careful about when to go outside and in what temperatures works best for you. If it feels too cold outside for you, then it’s okay to stay indoors. However, you could try wearing warm clothing and a mask to help keep you warm when you do go outside. Also consider going outside for short periods of time when it’s cold. It’s also important to talk with your doctor to see if he or she has any suggestions about going outside when it’s cold.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  3. Cameron Kennerly

    10 months ago


    That’s great to hear Mary, and we’re glad to hear despite your recent diagnoses you’ve found alternative methods of treatment through Animal Therapy. Please keep us updated on your progress and we look forward to hearing back from you. If you ever have any questions regarding stem cell therapy please feel free to reach out to us at (855) 313-1149 and we’d be happy to assist.

    Enjoy your day Mary,

    -The Lung Institute

  4. Mary Lindsey

    10 months ago

    What. I would like to know is what temperature is too cold to go out in. I usually don’t go out if the temp. Is under 20 degrees.

  5. Mary Lindsey

    10 months ago

    I had lung cancer and had my right lung removed in 2012. My husband got me the dog of my dreams (a shih Tzu/Maltese mix) puppy. Sissy came home soon after I started chemo. She was such a great therapy dog for me that we took classes and now we are a therapy dog team at a hospital twice a week. I have to use an electric scooter to get from floor to floor. I also have Rhuemetoid arthiritus. I am very susceptable to infection, I have had sepsis, MRSA (lost a toe from that) and c-Diff or I would think about knee and shoulder replacements. Sissy knows when I’m not feeling well and is very calm. She loves doing her therapy work at the hospital and gets very excited when we get there!

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* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

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