Pet Therapy & Service Animals for Multiple Sclerosis

  • by Nichole B.
  •   February 05, 2018

Nichole B. is a paid employee of Teva Neuroscience, Inc.

Animals have a natural way of providing support. They can calm people down just by being there, they can sense when someone’s feeling low, and they are often there as a friend when needed. With chronic diseases like multiple sclerosis, it’s common to experience symptoms like depression, loneliness and isolation. Pets could be a great way to lift your spirits. If the disease has had an impact on your independence, a service pet may help you get some of it back.

There are therapy animals and service animals. Therapy animals provide emotional support and a calming presence, but are not allowed everywhere as defined by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Service animals may help with turning on lights, picking things up off of the floor, guiding for the visually impaired and many other daily living tasks. Unlike therapy animals, service animals are allowed in many places, as defined by the ADA. Service animals can also be trained to identify certain medical issues such as seizures or high blood sugar. If you’re interested in learning more about service animals, you can check out the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s resources.

When considering getting a therapy or service animal, there are a few things to take into consideration:

  1. Can you care for the pet, or do you have someone who lives with you full time to ensure the pet has food and water and a clean litter box, and is walked and let outside?
  2. Consider the financial commitments of a pet, like veterinary bills, licensing fees, food, grooming, vaccinations (required by your city and county) and the fees for the adoption.
  3. Can you see yourself with an animal for at least 10 years or longer?
  4. If you have children in the home, be sure to do your research and find a breed that is good with children.

Pets are a wonderful source of comfort for many people with MS. They could become a valuable member of your family or a part of your MS team. They can be great companions, playmates, and they might help you stay active if you need to take them for walks. A pet could be right for you, and if it is, get ready for lots of lovin’!

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Nichole B.

Shared Solutions® Nurse

About The Author

Nichole B., RN, works at Teva’s Shared Solutions®. She has specialized in multiple sclerosis for two and a half years and has 6 years of nursing experience.

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5 Comment(s)
  • Stacy Reynolds | February 08, 2018
    My doctor has ordered Copaxone for me again.Problem is I can't even afford co-pay. Any solution.Last time I had it I got it from shared solutions free.I have since moved. Is this still possible
  • Cenora | March 11, 2018
    I love my dogs more than my man OK they are both there for me all the time
  • David | March 16, 2018
    Awesome Help Nichole thanks for caring and sharing. May all your dreams come true. D
  • Tammy | May 01, 2018
    I have 2 cats I adopted from my local humane society. I started out as a foster mom for them and the younger one I raised from the bottle.
    I went through a major depressive. I truly believe that my girls Delilah and Ursa are the reason I am alive today. They aren't considered therapy animals but I'd be a pile of ashes now if not for them.
    • Teva's Lift MS Team | May 02, 2018
      Your story put a smile on our faces. Thank you so much for sharing.
  • Bo | May 01, 2018
    I am owned by both a service dog and a therapy cat. Together they have helped me get through my long days for the past five years. They have even learned each others jobs. The cat has started waking me up when I stop breathing or preparing me for a spasm while the dog will lay her head on my lap when depression darkens my day. They both order me to bed when my energy starts to lag. A great team!
    • Teva's Lift MS Team | May 02, 2018
      Thank you for sharing, Bo!