Is A Fibromyalgia Service Dog For You?

by Spot on November 29, 2010

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Is A Fibromyalgia Service Dog For You?

There have been numerous studies carried out that shows dogs and animals in general help alleviate stress and anxiety and lower blood pressure of hospitalized chronically ill patients. But what can a fibromyalgia service dog for you and are they a suitable addition to your life?

First of all having any pet requires commitment on behalf of the owner. Dogs can live for 10 -15 years and they need to be feed, groomed, exercised and loved. You’ll also need to ensure that your garden, if you have one, is fully fenced and dangerous household items are placed out of dog-reach.

Service dogs for fibromyalgia sufferers is not uncommon, however you will need to be legally recognized as having a disability under the ADA of 1990 (Americans with Disabilities Act) before you can apply for one.

If you already have the necessary disability paperwork you’ll need to fill in forms at your chosen service dog center and be prepared for a long wait, there can be long waiting lists. It can also be an expensive procedure so ensure you understand what costs are involved.

There may be the possibility of disability insurance covering all or some of the costs involved, so it pays to do some investigation into this first.

Think about too, what you need your service dog for. Retrievers are common service dogs as they take well to training and can do things like retrieve items, help with household tasks, open doors and turn off and on light switches. All of which would be a great help if your mobility is impaired.

But they also provide more than practical help, service dogs can provide a reason for getting up in the morning and help patients become more active. Having a constant companion can ease pain, as a dog gives you focus away from the pain and they have shown to improve energy levels and sense of well being.

Smaller breeds are also being used as service dogs, but for very different reasons – their body heat.

One sufferer with fibromyalgia was introduced to a Xoloitzcuintli or Xolo (small Mexican hairless dog) and found that within 15 minutes of the dog lying on her wrists the pain with gone. Xolo’s are renowed for their exceptional body heat and she went on to have one as a service dog, trained to lie around her neck and shoulders.

For information about natural methods of treating fibromyalgia symptoms continue reading and sign up for the free newsletter below.

To find a dog trainer in your area visit The American Dog Trainers Network that lists dog trainers by state.

Sign up for Jane Thompson’s free Fibromyalgia newsletter – Overflowing with easy to implement methods to help you discover more about Fibromyalgia Service Dog.

Article from

Watch Gizmo perform her tasks as she works at home and during a trip to the store.
Video Rating: 4 / 5

More Service Dog Articles

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jennifer B 05.11.12 at 7:42 pm

You failed to mention that someone can train their own service dog. I have fibro and am training a poodle to be my service dog. You do not have to go through an organization to get a service dog and you do not have show anyone proof of a disability to access public spaces with a service dog.

2 Martha 05.20.12 at 7:23 pm

Actually, in some states like mine, Kansas, you DO have to have something to show establishments that ask, but you can make up the card/letter and photos required yourself just like homeschoolers can do. You just have to have all the information that your state demands, and have that available if anyone asks (including proof of your disability from a doctor–letter e.g.). Doubt anyone would ask, but you’re required by law here to at least have it on hand whenever you’re out. But you can be the trainer of the dog for sure!

3 Jill 09.14.12 at 10:21 pm

I already have chihuahuas. Can I make them my service dogs since I hv a recognized disability? Also, what are the costs involved & how long are wait lists?

4 a concerned coyote 10.04.13 at 8:18 am

The ADA protects a disabled person’s right to NOT show any kind of certification and especially to not show businesses proof of their disability. It is federally illegal for a business establishment to demand such things as it is considered discrimination — they can’t demand proof that you need a service dog any more than they can demand proof that you need a wheelchair. The state of Kansas cannot legally supersede federal law.

5 Sussie Due 10.04.13 at 9:52 am

That is absolutely correct!

6 SD 02.07.14 at 1:15 pm

Gizmo needs more training with her barking issue. Barking is consider a Nuisance /Noise Disturbance Laws- (IE- Movie Theater) and the SD will have to be removed
A SD who can’t control his own barking, then, is almost guaranteed to be deemed unsuitable for service.
SD can bark, but only with a purpose (IE-calling 911 or reminding person to take medication. The latter can be taught by having the dog retrieve your medication and/or touching you on a particular area. In the video, Gizmo was barking either at the camera or the person taking the video.

7 Monica 07.08.14 at 10:58 am

I have Fibromyalgia along with many other issues. I rescued a puppy that was severely abused 7 months ago and I have been training her to be my own service dog and she is amazing. She is half German Shepard and half Doberman, she helps me walk, can open doors, she always seems to know what part of my body hurts the most and automatically lays on or around that area. My youngest son is autistic so I have also been training her to meet his needs as well. For example, when we are out and he wanders off she will track, and find him with a simple 2 word command.
So my point here is that just about any dog can be trained to be a service dog, as long as they have the right personality for it, and are eager to learn new things.

8 Laynie 08.25.14 at 3:54 pm

Hello! I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia for 4 years now, and I am training my dog to be my own SD. I was wondering what the process is to register him (if I have to?) and also, if he were registered and I had to move into an apartment complex that only allows small dogs (mine weighs under 30lbs but some places don’t allow over 15lbs) would they be obligated to let him stay with me since he is a service dog? Thank you!

9 Sue 08.26.14 at 5:14 pm

I am sorry but I will not provide any information like that on those so called registries. While there are many websites out there that claim to “register” or “certify” a Service Dog. We know that it is not required by law, nor it is even recognized by any government agency, so we refuse to see the disabled scammed.

The Department of Justice states the following…

“ADA will not impose any type of formal training requirements, registration or certification process. While some groups have urged the Department to modify this position, the Department has determined that such a modification would not serve the full array of individuals with disabilities who use service animals, since individuals with disabilities may be capable of training, and some have trained, their service animal to perform tasks or do work to accommodate their disability. A training, registration or certification requirement would increase the expense of acquiring a service animal and might limit access to service animals. Especially for individuals with limited financial resources”

Here is also a video that explains it a bit more…

It also talks about it on our website…


10 Swift 09.06.14 at 4:04 pm

I have actually found that my SD who was originally trained for Panic Attack, Sensory Overload, Dissociation Episode, and minor guiding work, also relieves some of my muscle aches / pain from my fibromyalgia by licking the affected muscles such as my arms. In a sense a sensory related tactic that provides relief for short periods of time.

I have only recently started doing minor point of contact / mobility work with her as it is becoming increasingly difficult to get around. I had a fall back in February. My symptoms started about a year ago but while they say it isn’t progressive, my fatigue and pains have actually worsened. I don’t seem to have periods where I’m just “ok” or if I do they aren’t very long.

When I can’t have her with me or when the weather is just too much for her / she needs a break, I usually have to have someone else with me. I also get dizzy spells and forget who I am, where I am, whats going on. Have nearly got hit by traffic etc.

There are a lot of things to consider in getting a service dog also that people don’t realize. For one, it can make you more vulnerable, especially to discrimination and ignorance. No matter how well your dog is trained there will still be people out there with the idea that if you aren’t in a chair or blind you don’t need a service dog.

There are also other dangers for your dog. Including being attacked by a loose dog, having someone come pet your dog without asking with drugs on their hands, drugging your dog. People accidentally stepping on your dogs feet or tail because they aren’t paying attention.

I try and tell people this information because these things have happened to me. They could happen to any team. Just the other day a seeing eye dog got kicked on purpose simply because it was a pit bull. I really don’t understand why people with pets would ever want to expose their untrained pet especially to these dangers and others.

Just make sure you are able to understand what it takes to have a service dog. Sometimes you will even need to become your own advocate.

11 Carrie 10.10.14 at 3:29 pm

I have a lab/Pitt mix she is amazing at helping me and knowing why I need..she even alert me for my anxiety she seems to know its coming before it happens and lays on my lap …now the only problem is she has an issue with getting over excited in public with people and animals…she wants to jump on and lick them more of a hello play with me type thing…any suggestions on how to train her better on that would be great she just turned 2 and has recently figured put a baby gait I use to keep her confined when we have deliveries ….she now gets it open quickly and follows me everywhere…I wanted to get her trained by professionals but they either want a ton of money or will not take one older then 8 months…please email me at strappcl@ with any help or info to train my Izzy she has been a God send and having her where I have more anxiety and fibro flares and that is on a public setting.

12 Britaneya 02.19.15 at 10:11 pm

At martha i live in ks too the only questions they can ask is this a service dog and what tasks does he or she perform no proof needed no certification needed its illegal to ask what ur disability is and they cant force you to show a doctors note

13 Amber 03.10.15 at 1:30 pm

how does one go about training their current dog? I have one I would LOVE to be trained to help me. Books, websites, anything!

14 Sara 05.22.15 at 10:34 am

I’m in Kansas and I have been having severe back pain for two years. I’ve been told by my PT that I should go to a rheumatologist to see if I have fibromyalgia. PT after 3 months is not helping I’m still in severe pain. My doctors give me the same meds as someone with fibro but he says my diagnosis is myofacsial pain. I have a chihuahua and most of the day I lay in bed with a heating pad petting my dog. I’d like to make him a service dog so I can bring him anywhere but what I really need is to know the best doctor to go to to get a diagnosis. When I go to primary care docs I can tell they think I’m faking it so does some of the PT’s. Someone please help me sort through this. Any suggestions?

15 Janelle 10.08.15 at 10:03 pm

For those of you in Kansas, or anyone else who knows, are there any good places to get a trained service dog in Kansas? While I have fibromyalgia, I am looking for a service dog due to my diagnosis of Idiopathic Hypersomnia with Long Sleep. The two main tasks would be for her to wake me to an alarm every morning forcing me to get and stay out of bed and to keep me from nodding off during the day especially on my 30 mile commute. Tasks to help with fibromyalgia would be an added bonus but would be scratched if they brought the price up at all.
If anyone would like to list the care a service dog requires, that would also be awesome. Such as: daily walk, how often they need to be taken out, brushed, bathed, taken to the vet, etc.
thank you all!

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