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Anyone else have POTS?

3700 Views 34 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  service dog vera
I was diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome a few years ago, but I’ve likely had it my whole life secondary to a connective tissue disorder.

I’m wondering if there are some ways Peggy might be able to help me manage my symptoms. She’s shown some interest in my elevated heart rate once I’m already lying down, but doesn’t seem to notice it when I’m standing (which is when I could really use an alert).

Just putting this out there in case any current Poodle Forum members (or folks who are just googling “POTS service dog”) have any insights on training POTS-specific tasks to a poodle.

My one concern would be making her more protective of me than she already is. That’s not something I want.
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I have a different type of orthostatic intolerance, called neurally mediated hypotension. It basically means my heart is too slow when standing up, which could lead to fainting episodes.

I have no idea how to train Peggy but I know there are smart watches who can give you alerts based on your programmed max heart rate. I’m sure you know about those though.

(Is it just me or the pic in my siggy has disappeared ?)
I’ve not found one that alerts you. Will have to do some research!

I wore a Fitbit for a while, but it constantly congratulated me for working out when I was just standing there. I also found I was checking it compulsively, which wasn’t good for my mental health.
(Is it just me or the pic in my siggy has disappeared ?)
P.S. Sorry for the delayed reply! I can see it. :)
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I have dysautonomia, but not POTS. I had the tilt table test, and it was inconclusive. I’ve struggled with the nerve condition for 10 years. I also have kidney disease and hypertension. Some tasks that would be useful for me from a service dog are emergency medication retrieval, counterbalance, picking things up and handing them to me (so I don’t get lightheaded from bending over), and guiding me to safety when I lose my vision due to a migraine. I also had hope that a service dog could alert me if my blood pressure gets too high so I can take emergency medication before it gets too bad, but that likely wouldn’t apply to you.
We have a lot of overlapping stuff to deal with. I’m sorry. :( I have a connective tissue disorder, which causes frequent dislocations. So it’s hard for me to manage even a medium sized dog. But I’d love a big beefy pupper for stability and also maybe even to prop my legs up on. That would be amazing, but it’s not gonna happen. Boisterous adolescents are too much for my slippy shoulders and ribs.
I have puzzled and puzzled about your unique needs for a service dog-and now must be at a dead end on how to alert you. I so wish that I had some advice. Hopefully one of our certified trainers(Click N Treat and Lily cd re) might have some ideas.
I think I might start with teaching her to lie on my legs and apply pressure. She does that naturally anyway so it shouldn’t be too hard.....at least not at home. Out and about will be trickier. She’s not naturally very handler focused. The world is too exciting.
I think its difficult to train a service dog for POTS, which make them a much more expensive service animal to own. However I think they are great to offer stability and emotional support. You can teach Peggy to get help, if you feel faint or if you do faint. I've read they can be taught to even recognize symptoms before they occur. I have no idea how you would train. You can probably reach out to usserviceanimals.org to get some details.
Thanks for the link!

Peggy doesn’t really have a service dog temperament. She’s too excitable. But she’s soooo smart, I feel like I should harness those brains a little. I’ll come up with something for her to do. Maybe even something as simple as retrieving things for me so I can avoid standing and/or bending over on bad days.
I don't, but I have friends that do. Both of them have service dogs that can warn them when their heart rate starts going haywire, as well as bring medication bottles to them. One friend's GSD bitch will lay on him, and not let him up, if she thinks he's going to pass out.

Neither one of them has a Poodle. One has a Doberman Pinscher (who is retired from public work due to injuries) and a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. The other one has two GSD (one retired from public wok due to injuries and the other a young puppy) and a Belgian Malinois.
I think poodle sensitivity would be great for alerting, and Peggy has naturally pressed into me before during a bad episode. But many of the things I could really use help with would require a much larger dog. I’d sooooo love a breed that could help me with balance... I think I’d feel much more capable of navigating the world with a dog like that by my side.
I have tried the version where the dog just puts its front legs up on a person seated in a chair and discovered Annie has very boney elbows.
Lol YES! This is a problem whenever she lies across me. I’m pretty sure she’s got like, 10 elbows.
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I had a POTS episode tonight—after a really good few days—and it has noticeably affected Peggy.

She was snoozing and lounging happily, not a care in the world. Then suddenly she was standing behind me in the kitchen, right up against my legs, refusing to budge. It wasn’t until I looked down at her that I started to feel lightheaded and realized my heart rate had soared above 150.

Now she’s on high alert, eyes darting between me and every door and window, low rumbles in her throat, while I elevate my legs.

I wish I could explain to her that I’m okay, but....the body doesn’t lie, and she knows my body is doing something weird right now. Tonight has confirmed to me that she’s capable of alerting to these episodes, but I’m not sure I want her to.
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Oh boy. I can understand your ambivalence. On the one hand, it would be handy to get an alert about an episode before you hit the floor. On the other hand, you don't want to be trying to manage a jittery unpredictable Peggy at the same time you are also dealing with your immediate medical crisis.
Exactly. I suspect she’s reacting to the surge of adrenaline, which I’m not sure I could train out of her even if I tried. Her behaviour is consistent with the results of this study:

When exposed to the fear sweat sample the dogs had a higher heart rate and tended to ignore the stranger, seeking comfort from their owner. With the ‘happy’ odor sample, the dogs appeared more relaxed and less cautious towards the stranger, sniffing them inquisitively.

Of course Peggy was upset.She was probably scared for you. Medical issues are so far from norm. Peggy picked up on that. Think she could alert you with some training. You will have to figure out what is best for both of you. Sorry your illness is popping up again. Sending ((HUGS)) your way.
Thanks, @Asta's Mom. Big hugs right back!
If Peggy will go along with this and remains still, sit down and hold her right up against your heart. Her body warmth and poodle intuition might get in sync with the problem and calm it down.
She does like to lay on my legs, and that pressure could be helpful.
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I’m sorry about your flare. When I have an episode, I feel it coming and I sit as fast as possible to avoid passing out. If you don’t have enough time to react, then I would think having Peggy alert you is a good thing.

I hope you can ret and feel better soon.
Thanks, @Dechi :)
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I feel for you, while I have no suggestions for a service dog, my 38 year old daughter has POTS, EDS and has just been diagnosed with Ménière’s disease. Her cat tends to respond to her episodes, keeping close and giving her emotional support. We also noticed that our Miniature Finn picks up on her episodes and tends to nudge himself under her hand or tuck himself up beside her. They are not easy conditions to manage and to the outside world you look well and normal. But the reality is you have little control over your autonomic system. Sending gentle hugs to you, and I hope you find a good way forward with Peggy.
Ahhh. Your daughter and I would have lots to chat about, I think. :)

It took a while to rule out Ménière’s, as I have so many overlapping symptoms. I also have suspected EDS, but I’ve been too overwhelmed these past few years to seek an official diagnosis. Just knowing I have a joint hypermobility spectrum disorder has been helpful for management.

You’re so right about the unique challenges of having an invisible health condition. Adds a whole extra layer of complexity, and was especially hard before I had a clue what was going on with me. I’m sure your daughter can relate. Luckily, the older I get, and the better I understand my body, the easier it’s getting to advocate for myself. I hope the same is true for your daughter.
I have an orthostatic intolerance issue too (currently have doctors debating if it’s POTS or orthostatic hypotension) along with probably gastroparesis and am waiting for evaluation for EDS. It’s a lot to handle and I can only imagine it makes Peggy anxious. I’ve yet to have an episode of any of my major medical issues since getting Tuck, I guess we’ll see how he handles it.
Ahh! Welcome to the club. ;)

My best advice with Tuck is to do a lot of off-leash walking practice in a heel position. It’s amazing how much damage even small dogs can do to these joints of ours. Peggy is fine 99% of the time, like my old little girl Gracie was, but all it takes is a sudden jerk on the leash to pull my shoulder out. And shoulder recovery is such a beast. (I’m still recovering from a dislocation that happened right at the start of covid....while I was reaching my arm back to put on my jacket. :rolleyes:)

Luckily, off-leash training in a safe area can be super fun, especially for puppies. Peggy still loves trying to stick to me as I do laps around the yard.
Yeah, my parents had a lab who was a serious puller and he was a big boy. I used to have to tether his leash around my waist to walk him or else he’d just yank me down the street and pull me off balance. Loose leash walking is a priority training point for us, and hopefully off leash too although we have less opportunities for that where we live.
Leashes are required pretty much everywhere around here, too. Plus, Peggy is not 100% reliable (not many dogs are). But I find that off-leash training creates a great foundation for loose-leash skills, and it’s such a fun bonding activity with a puppy.

On that note, your pics of Tuck give me serious puppy fever! Keep ‘em coming, please.
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