Throughout the United States, about 387,000 people use service dogs – less than 1 percent of the total population of disabled Americans. Although there may not be very many service dogs, they provide indispensable services to the people they support.
What makes a dog a service dog? According to the definition from the Americans With Disabilities Act, this is a canine individually trained to perform certain tasks for someone with a disability. They might, for example, retrieve small objects.
Some service dogs are trained for a calming effect. For example, people suffering from PTSD can be partnered with a dog that helps in stressful situations.
Now, migraine sufferers in New Jersey can also benefit.
Migraine Alert Dogs Help Protect Sufferers from Harm
A migraine alert dog is a dog trained to pick up on the early signs of a migraine – before the sufferer is aware. This amazing ability relies on the dog’s keen senses. For example, a dog’s sense of smell is 100,000 times more acute than a human’s.
Dogs can also be aware of subtle cues from their owners.
A migraine alert dog can notice the earliest signs of migraine – the prodrome phase. This period can begin up to 48 hours before full migraine symptoms are experienced. Over this time, gradual changes take place in the sufferer’s central nervous system.
Generally, migraine sufferers become alert to their symptoms when they reach the aura phase, when migraines compromise their eyesight. However, trained dogs can detect the onset of the prodrome phase from the first minutes it starts.
A Well-Trained Dog is an Early Warning System for Migraines
Prodrome symptoms are very subtle. They can include things like yawning, food cravings, mild mood changes, fatigue and difficulty concentrating or speaking. Dogs can alert their owners in various ways, such as by nudging, licking, circling or staring intently.
(Naturally, most migraine dogs have not been trained to bark as a warning sign.)
With the help of a dog, many sufferers are able to take medication within the right timeframe to significantly alleviate symptoms and reduce the length of a migraine attack.
New Jersey Headache Institute
If you do not want such a dog or can’t afford one, however, there is another option. At the New Jersey Headache Institute, we can uncover the root cause of your migraines and provide customized treatment to eliminate them for good. To get started, contact us today or visit us.