As a nation of animal lovers, our pets mean the world to us. From cuddles on the sofa to perking us up when we’re having a bad day, they do a lot to keep us happy. But pets can also provide practical help and support in a number of other ways. This is particularly true when it comes to helping those with mobility problems.

From visual and hearing impairments to chronic health conditions and other disabilities, pets can be on hand to help in a crisis or just with general daily duties. For people living with mobility problems, pets can be more than just a family member, they can be a life-changer too.

Day to day tasks
There are certain types of pets, such as assistance dogs – also known as service dogs – who are specifically trained to help lend a paw to people with mobility problems.

In addition to offering a general sense of protection, the type of training they undertake includes teaching them how to help their owner out with day to day tasks that can prove especially difficult. These include:

  • Picking up and carrying items
  • Helping their owner to remove clothing
  • Opening and closing doors and draws
  • Ringing a doorbell or knocking on the door
  • Turning light switches on and off
  • Assisting those who are wheelchair-bound by helping to pull them along
  • Assisting a person with both their gait and balance while walking along

Assistance dogs can carry out a whole host of practical jobs for people who require it, as well as helping to provide independence and boosting confidence when it’s needed the most. They’re quite easy to spot whilst out and about as the dogs usually wear a special vest with a handle attachment to assist the owner with their physical activities.

Due to their calm temperaments, intelligence, and accommodating nature, there are certain breeds who are considered more helpful for this type of assistance, such as Labradors, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherd. But that’s not to say other breeds cannot be trained for this purpose.

Assistance with medical conditions
Most people are aware of pets, such as guide dogs who can help those with visual impairments as well as dogs who are able to assist people with hearing impairments. But there are also other animals that possess skills to help those with life-threatening medical conditions.

These can include the ability to assist people with severe allergic responses as well as being able to sniff out a diabetic’s drop in blood sugar and make the person aware before they face any imminent danger.

While cats aren’t currently recognised as service animals, they can help to provide emotional support to those suffering from disabilities and other related issues. And due to their intelligent nature, Capuchin monkeys are also able to help people who suffer from severe impairments to their mobility, such as those living with multiple sclerosis.

For people with health conditions such as epilepsy, a seizure response dog can offer great assistance. These dogs are “trained to provide a 100% reliable warning up to 50 minutes prior to an oncoming seizure. They give time for their owner to find a place of safety and privacy as they have their seizure.”