Fibromyalgia Service Dog: How It Works and How to Get One

Fibromyalgia Service Dog – How It Works and How to Get One

Updated on May 20, 2024
Written by Brenda Mejia

fact checked by Stephane Bandeira

Living with fibromyalgia can mean pain, fatigue, and other challenging symptoms. One unique way to handle these symptoms is by partnering with a fibromyalgia service dog. These trained therapy dogs assist by performing tasks that can lower fibromyalgia’s impact on your daily life.

In this article, we will examine how a fibromyalgia service dog can make all the difference. We will also explore what specific tasks these service dogs perform and the procedures for obtaining one for yourself.

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by a vast diffuse chronic disorder. This disorder causes pain and tenderness throughout the body. It also has major symptoms, such as fatigue and trouble sleeping

Scientists do not understand what causes it. Yet, people with the disorder have a heightened sensitivity to pain.

The exact causes and treatment of fibromyalgia are not known. It is a combination of genetic, neurobiological, and environmental factors. These factors affect how the brain processes pain signals. 

Key factors that contribute to fibromyalgia include chronic pain, ongoing stress, or illness.

Fibromyalgia Diagnosis and Symptoms

Diagnosis of fibromyalgia is difficult. Additionally, there is no specific laboratory test for it. Doctors rely on patient medical history, self-reported fibromyalgia symptoms, and physical examination.

A common diagnostic criterion includes feeling pain in at least 11 of 18 specific tender points on the body when slight pressure is applied.

The symptoms of fibromyalgia are broad and variable in intensity. They include:

  • Widespread Pain: A persistent ache across many body parts
  • Fatigue: An inability to sleep well even after sleeping
  • Cognitive Problems: Often referred to as “fibro fog.” It reflects difficulties related to concentration and memory
  • Sleep Disturbances: Inability to get high-quality sleep
  • Emotional Disturbances: Some people suffering from the illness experience anxiety and depression
  • Stiffness: In the morning or after periods of inactivity
  • Numbness or Tingling: Typically in hands and feet
  • Headaches/Migraines: Often frequent or chronic headaches
  • Digestive Problems: Like IBS, including bloating, constipation, or diarrhea

These symptoms are important reasons for those affected to create a personalized plan. They can do this through medication, exercise, and stress management therapy. The support of a medical professional or a service dog can also help.

What Is a Service Dog?

A service dog is a specialized trained service animal. It is an expert performing specific tasks that assist people with disabilities. These abilities can be physical, mental, sensory, or intellectual.

ADA recognizes these service dogs. This law allows them to have public access rights to go with their handlers.

To qualify for a service dog, a person must have a diagnosed disability. Additionally, the dog needs training to perform tasks related to the disability.

Service dogs are different from emotional support animals and therapy dogs. They have the same training to perform specific tasks related to a person’s disability.

Can Service Dogs Help People With Fibromyalgia?

Yes. Service dogs can help individuals with fibromyalgia. They can help by performing tasks that ease the condition’s effects on daily living. For those suffering from chronic pain and fatigue, service dogs can assist with:

  • Mobility
  • Support when standing or walking, 
  • Help with stability

They are trained to retrieve items and open and close doors. They can even assist with dressing by bringing clothes or helping remove them. These dogs can be trained to recognize signs of pain or emotional distress. They can provide immediate assistance to the owner. 

They perform tasks such as fetching medication or a phone during an emergency. Service dogs offer companionship and emotional support. They help ease feelings of isolation and depression experienced by individuals with fibromyalgia. 

Their constant presence and unconditional love provide a sense of security and comfort. This contributes to improved mental well-being alongside the practical help they provide.

Service Dog Benefits for Fibromyalgia Treatment

The benefits of having a service dog when managing fibromyalgia are:

  • Pain Management: They can perform tasks that reduce the physical strain. These tasks can include retrieving objects and providing support when moving. They can also help manage chronic pain.
  • Emotional Support: The companionship of a service dog can offer significant emotional relief. It can help to manage anxiety and depression.
  • Increased Independence: They assist with daily tasks that might be challenging. They enhance the independence and self-sufficiency of their handlers.
  • Preventative Care: These dogs can detect and respond to oncoming pain episodes or flare-ups. This helps provide necessary aid even before the handler realizes it’s needed.
  • Improved Mobility: Service dogs act as a balance and support aid. They enable safer and more comfortable movement both at home and in public.
  • Enhanced Safety: They help to secure their handler’s environment. They do this by clearing obstacles, seeking help, or providing physical support.

How to Obtain a Service Dog for Fibromyalgia

Obtaining a service dog for people with fibromyalgia involves a series of steps. These steps ensure that the dog is a suitable match for your specific needs. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get one:

  1. Assessment of Need: An appointment with your doctor will determine whether a service dog can help you. A physician’s letter is often part of a service dog application package.
  2. Research Accredited Organizations: You should find organizations that specialize in training service animals. These organizations should be members of an organization such as Assistance Dogs International.
  3. Application Process: You will need to fill out an application form. Most applications need you to provide detailed medical information. This can include your home environment and the difficulties you experience daily.
  4. Interviews and Matching: Most organizations will interview you. They do this to understand your needs better. It helps them to find the right dog to fit their lifestyle and medical needs. The process might also include home visits to assess your living situation.
  5. Waiting Period: There usually is a waiting period of several months to a few years. This wait depends on the availability of the right dogs and the volume of applications.
  6. Training: After matching, you and your service dog must undergo handler training. This can help form a strong bond and teach you how to work as a team.
  7. Finalizing the Match: After training, the organization will usually reevaluate you. They do this to see if the dog can perform its tasks in your environment.
  8. Follow-Up: Most organizations will follow up with you periodically. They do this to make sure that your service dog continues to meet your needs.

Choosing the Right Service Dog for You

Selecting the right service dog involves understanding your needs and the potential service dogs. Here’s how to choose the right one:

  1. Identify Your Needs: Define what tasks you need help with. Whether it’s stability for balance issues or retrieving items. Your symptoms and daily challenges will help guide the selection process.
  2. Consider Dog Traits: Look for dogs with the physical attributes necessary to perform required tasks. For example, a larger, sturdy dog might be what you need if you need balance support. A smaller, affectionate breed could be better for emotional support or tactile stimulation.
  3. Temperament and Trainability: Choose a dog known for being easy-going, trainable, and intelligent. These traits are crucial for service animals to adapt to different situations.
  4. Personal Interaction: Spend time interacting with potential service dogs. This helps for a successful handler-dog relationship.
  5. Assess Your Lifestyle: Consider your living conditions and ability to care for a dog. Some dogs need more physical activity and space than others. So, your ability to provide for the dog’s needs must match them.
  6. Professional Guidance: Leverage the training organization’s experience to help make the perfect match. Their experience in pairing dogs with handlers can be invaluable.

Service Dog Registration

Registering a therapy dog as a service dog can help simplify the process of proving its status. This can help in situations where you may need to verify that your dog is a trained service animal.

Registration is not legally required in the United States. However, having a form of identification or an ESA Letter can help in public or travel situations. ESA Pet can assist you in obtaining a legitimate letter.

Get your Official ESA Letter Consultation from a licensed therapist.

Get ESA Letter Now

FAQs About Fibromyalgia Service Dog

Can I Get a Support Dog for Fibromyalgia?

Yes. Individuals with fibromyalgia can qualify for treatment with a support dog. They can only qualify if their condition impairs their daily functioning in life.

Support dogs, particularly service dogs, are trained to perform specific tasks. These tasks assist patients with both physical and emotional challenges caused by fibromyalgia.

Service dogs can perform tasks such as retrieving items and alerting to medical emergencies. Their presence can enhance independence and quality of life.

What Is the Best Dog for Someone With Fibromyalgia?

The best dog for someone with fibromyalgia depends on the needs and living situation. Larger breeds of working dogs, like Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, are preferred for their stability and gentle demeanor. These tasks are helpful for physical and emotional support animals’ tasks.

Smaller breeds might be ideal for those needing emotional support and less interaction. Smaller breeds like Cavaliers or Chihuahuas offer emotional support with their affectionate nature and portable size. They are ideal for comforting during flare-ups or in social situations.

Their manageable size suits smaller living spaces. It ensures practicality and companionship for those with fibromyalgia. 

Do Pets Help Fibromyalgia?

Pets can provide significant emotional and physical benefits to individuals with fibromyalgia. The companionship, stress relief, and structure of caring for a pet can help manage symptoms.

Pets offer emotional support and stress relief for fibromyalgia patients. Interacting with them releases oxytocin, reducing pain perception. Caring for pets involves physical activity, enhancing flexibility and stamina, and easing symptoms.

Service Dogs are Exempt from Pet Fees for Housing

According to the FHA, Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs are exempt from any housing pet fees, deposits or pet rents.

Learn More Emotional Support Animals Benefits


In this guide, we’ve explored the benefits and processes of obtaining a fibromyalgia service dog. These service dogs are trained to perform various tasks. These tasks assist with mobility, pain management, and emotional support. They help to enhance the quality of life for those with fibromyalgia.

Individuals can gain a valuable ally in managing their symptoms and maintaining independence. Whether you’re looking to get a service dog through registration special training with ESA Pet or seeking the companionship of a pet, it’s clear that animals play a significant role in managing and treating fibromyalgia.

Contact ESA Pet for Personalized Assistance