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The Role of Service Dogs: Enhancing Independence and Well-being

Service dogs play a vital role in our society, providing assistance and support to individuals with disabilities. These remarkable animals undergo rigorous training to perform specialized tasks that enable their handlers to lead more independent and fulfilling lives. In this article, we will explore the world of service dogs, their unique training process, the benefits they offer to individuals with disabilities, and the distinction between service dogs and emotional support animals. Join us as we delve into the incredible ways service dogs enhance independence and well-being.

Understanding Service Dogs and Their Training

Service dogs are highly trained animals that are specifically trained to assist individuals with disabilities. Unlike other types of assistance animals, service dogs are individually trained to perform tasks that mitigate their handler’s disability. The training process begins with careful selection, followed by intensive training sessions tailored to the handler’s specific needs. These incredible animals are taught to perform tasks such as retrieving objects, opening doors, providing balance support, and even detecting medical emergencies. The rigorous training they undergo ensures that they can assist their handlers with utmost precision and reliability.

The Benefits of Service Dogs for Individuals with Disabilities

The impact of service dogs on the lives of individuals with disabilities is profound. These amazing animals offer a range of benefits that extend beyond physical assistance. For individuals with mobility impairments, service dogs provide enhanced mobility and independence. They can retrieve dropped items, assist with dressing and undressing, and even pull a wheelchair. Service dogs also offer emotional support and provide a sense of companionship, alleviating feelings of isolation and loneliness. Their presence can help individuals manage stress, anxiety, and depression, promoting overall psychological well-being. Furthermore, service dogs facilitate social interactions, breaking down barriers and promoting community integration for their handlers.

Service Dogs in Specific Contexts

Service dogs are trained to meet the unique needs of individuals with various disabilities. In the context of visual impairments, guide dogs play a crucial role. These highly trained canines assist individuals with navigation, avoiding obstacles, and safely crossing streets. They provide an unmatched level of independence for individuals with visual impairments, allowing them to navigate the world with confidence. For individuals with mobility impairments, service dogs are trained to perform tasks such as retrieving dropped items, opening doors, and assisting with balance. These tasks empower individuals to overcome physical challenges and engage in daily activities with greater ease. Additionally, service dogs can be trained to assist individuals with psychiatric disabilities, providing comfort during panic attacks, interrupting harmful behaviors, and creating a calming presence.

The Distinction Between Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs

While service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks to assist individuals with disabilities, emotional support animals (ESAs) play a different role. ESAs provide companionship and emotional support to individuals with mental health conditions, but they are not trained to perform specific tasks. Unlike service dogs, ESAs do not possess public access rights and are primarily allowed in housing and transportation settings under certain circumstances. It is essential to understand the distinction between these two types of assistance animals to ensure proper understanding and support for individuals who require their companionship.


Service dogs are extraordinary creatures that positively impact the lives of individuals with disabilities. Their specialized training equips them to perform a wide array of tasks, promoting independence and enhancing well-being. From guiding individuals with visual impairments to providing mobility assistance and emotional support, service dogs are true heroes. It is crucial to recognize their unique role and the profound difference they make in the lives of their handlers. Let us appreciate and support these amazing service dogs as they continue to transform lives and pave the way for a more inclusive society.

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Colleges & Universities Allow Emotional Support Animals

Going to college can be a tough transition for young students, as it is fraught with unknowns and plenty of stressors. Social anxieties, academic anxieties—not to mention moving to a new home (often even a new town)—can create an incredible amount of emotional angst. And, if you’ve always grown up around animals, it can be especially difficult to transition into a place without any. If you can relate to these feelings, you’re in luck!

While only a handful of colleges and universities allow students to bring pets to campus, all of them, both public and private, are required by law to allow any student with a service animal or an emotional support animal to bring their companion to campus. That includes an emotional support dog or an emotional support cat, although even ducks and other oddities sometimes make the cut.

What is an emotional support animal?

An emotional support animal (ESA), most commonly an emotional support dog or emotional support cat, is a person’s pet that has been prescribed by a licensed mental health professional, such as a licensed therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. The animal is part of the treatment program for this person and is designed to bring comfort and minimize the negative symptoms of the person’s emotional or psychological disability.

Because it is the very presence of an emotional support animal that mitigates symptoms, the ESA does not need to have any specific training.

Why have an emotional support animal at college?

According to the American Psychological Association, stress on campuses is on the rise. Between 2010 and 2015, there has been a 30% increase in students seeking counseling help. And a UNI Health study found that 80% of students report feeling stress at university. Is it any surprise?

College can be a stressful experience for many students. Not only are they adjusting to a new environment, but for most, it is their first time living away from their family home. Students arrive oftentimes both to a new home and a new social scene—it can be very lonely until friendships are established. Add to this excessive school demands like tests and research papers, and stress can skyrocket. That’s where an emotional support animal comes in.

An emotional support cat can make a student feel at ease, when they come back to their dorm and have a furry little friend to play games with and cuddle. The relationship with their emotional support cat can be very tender and sweet and can really lift the mood.

Similarly, an emotional support dog can be a great friend when times are tough. Just seeing the excited doggie face when stressed out, can help shift the negative spiral and taking an emotional support dog for a walk can help clear the air.

Here are a few of the major stressors that an emotional support animal at college can help to alleviate:

  • Homesickness
  • Academic Expectations
  • Social Anxiety
  • Loneliness

When a student leaves home for college, they naturally miss a lot of things about home—and their pet is not one of the insignificant things. That’s why lots of colleges and universities are opening up pet therapy programs to allow a student to bring an emotional support animal on campus.

An emotional support dog or cat can also help students feel more at ease in social situations. Meeting new people can be easier when there is a dog present to focus on.

Is an emotional support animal permitted in the dorm?

Yes! The fair housing act which gives housing rights to people with an emotional support animal. That means that even if a residence is a “no pets allowed” residence, the owner is required to make allowances for where an emotional support animal is concerned. It also can potentially wave pet fees associated with certain residences.

However, proper documentation will need to be supplied. A 2013 US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) memorandum states the housing provider may ask persons who are seeking a reasonable accommodation for an assistance animal that provides emotional support to provide documentation from a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional that the animal provides emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of an existing disability.

Can an emotional support animal accompany me to class?

This is less likely. While the housing laws protect your right to have an animal at home, it does not necessarily mean you can take your emotional support dog or emotional support cat anywhere on campus. However, you may request special permission to take your emotional support animal with you to class and to other areas on the campus. Just keep in mind that universities are not required to acquiesce in this circumstance.

Can my service animal come with me to class?

A service animal is different from an emotional support animal in that they are trained to help a disabled owner to accomplish certain tasks. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires schools to allow these animals on campus, and because these animals (service dogs or, less commonly, service miniature horses) are professionals at work, and can be necessary for basic tasks, they follow a different set of rules. For example, a service animal must be allowed at all times and everywhere on campus, except where there is a health or safety hazard. That means your service animal can come with you to class, the dining hall, and the library.

What kind of animal can an emotional support be?

An emotional support animal can technically be any sort of domesticated animal, including a bird, hamster, rabbit or, of course, an emotional support cat or emotional support dog, with these latter two being the most common sort. However, there are limits on reasonability, so before you try to bring your pet alligator to university, you’ll want to check on the specifics with your particular school.

You’ll also need to be sure that the animal is manageable in public and does not create a nuisance in or around the dormitory, or it may be asked to leave.

How can I bring my emotional support animal to school?

In order to bring your animal to school, you will need to qualify. It is not difficult: To qualify for an emotional support animal, you will need to have a psychologist, psychiatrist, therapist or other licensed mental health professional provide a professional prescription letter certifying that an emotional support dog or cat are of therapeutic benefit to you because of an emotional disability. Some emotional conditions that may qualify you could include depression, anxiety, PTSD, ADD or learning disabilities.

In the letter the professional will need to assert that having an emotional support animal significantly helps alleviate your condition.

Are there any schools that allow pets without needing an ESA certificate?

Yes! But not many. Eckerd College in Florida, for example, is known for being incredibly pet friendly, as they live by the philosophy that students should be able to bring a bit of home with them to school. The college even includes an on-campus dog park and veterinary services for students! Stephens College in Missouri is another campus that welcomes pets and Lees-McRae College in North Carolina goes so far as to encourage students and teachers to bring students to class.

There are also schools with equestrian programs, such as Centenary College in New Jersey and Alfred University in New York, so you’ll have lots of time with horses if that’s what feels good.

Other universities allow animals in dormitories for second year students or third year students only, while other schools have specific pet friendly dorms, such as California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, which has cat friendly apartments on campus. Many universities only allow pets (or emotional support animals) in single-resident dorm rooms.

While it is rare to be allowed to have a dog or cat on campus as a pet, most colleges and universities allow reasonably sized aquariums with fish, along with other small caged animals such as hamsters.

And keep in mind that even if you don’t go to a pet friendly school, all universities must respect the rights to have an emotional support animal in the dorms.

School doesn’t have to be so lonely!

If you have a special pet that you’re close to, you may want to consider having them certified to be an emotional support animal. Having a furry friend at school can provide real comfort. A pet, such as an emotional support cat or emotional support dog can provide nurturing touch, wholesome connection and therapeutic love. Simply sharing a space with one of these wonderful animals can relax your nerves and ease your stress. The National Service Animal Registry can help you get your pet registered today.

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All You Need to Know about Service Dogs and Taxes

Updated May 30, 2023

Service dogs play a crucial role in the lives of individuals with disabilities, providing invaluable assistance and enhancing their independence. These highly trained animals assist people with a wide range of disabilities, including visual impairments, mobility limitations, hearing impairments, and various medical conditions. Beyond their practical benefits, service dogs also have implications when it comes to taxes in the United States. In this article, we will explore the tax-related considerations for individuals with service dogs, including deductions, credits, eligibility criteria, necessary documentation, and potential benefits available to service dog handlers.

Understanding Service Dogs and Their Functions

Service dogs are specifically trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a person’s disability. These tasks can include guiding individuals with visual impairments, alerting individuals with hearing impairments to sounds, providing physical support for individuals with mobility limitations, and even assisting during medical emergencies. It is important to note that emotional support animals and therapy animals are not considered service dogs under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and therefore have different implications regarding taxes.

Deductions and Credits for Service Dog Expenses

In the United States, individuals with disabilities who have a service dog may be eligible for certain deductions and credits related to their service dog expenses. However, it’s important to consult a tax professional or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for specific guidance based on your individual circumstances. Here are some potential deductions and credits to consider:

Expenses that may qualify for tax deductions or credits:

Expenses that may qualify for tax deductions or credits include acquiring the service dog, training fees, veterinary care, food and specialized diet, and grooming and maintenance expenses directly related to the service dog’s job requirements. These expenses are considered eligible if they meet specific criteria and are properly documented.

However, it’s important to note that not all service dog-related expenses are eligible for tax benefits, and specific criteria must be met. The IRS has guidelines regarding which expenses qualify as deductible medical expenses or work-related expenses. Additionally, the expenses must typically exceed certain thresholds, such as the 7.5% of adjusted gross income (AGI) threshold for medical expense deductions, to be eligible for deduction.

To ensure accurate information and determine the specific eligibility of expenses, it is recommended to consult a tax professional or refer to IRS guidelines related to service dog expenses.

Medical Expense Deduction:

Under the IRS rules, individuals who itemize their deductions may be able to claim the expenses associated with obtaining, training, and maintaining a service dog as a medical expense deduction. This deduction applies if the service dog is prescribed by a healthcare professional to assist in the management of a disability.

To claim this deduction, individuals must keep detailed records of their service dog-related expenses, including costs such as acquiring the dog, training fees, veterinary care, and food. Documentation from a healthcare professional prescribing the use of a service dog should also be obtained and kept for reference.

Work-Related Expenses:

In certain cases, individuals with disabilities who use a service dog for employment purposes may be able to deduct some of the related expenses as work-related deductions. This applies to individuals who require a service dog to perform their job effectively and efficiently. However, the expenses must be directly related to the individual’s disability and job duties. Examples of eligible expenses may include grooming and maintenance costs specific to the service dog’s job requirements.

Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA):

If an individual has a service dog that assists with the care of a dependent with a disability, they may be eligible to set aside pre-tax dollars in a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA) to cover expenses related to the service dog’s care. This can include costs such as food, grooming, and veterinary care.

Eligibility Criteria and Necessary Documentation:

To qualify for tax deductions or credits related to service dogs, individuals must meet certain criteria and provide appropriate documentation. Here are key considerations:

Eligibility Criteria:

To be eligible for tax benefits related to service dogs, individuals must have a disability recognized under the ADA. This includes physical, sensory, mental, or emotional impairments that substantially limit one or more major life activities. Additionally, the service dog must be trained to perform specific tasks directly related to the individual’s disability.

Necessary Documentation:

When claiming tax deductions or credits, individuals should maintain thorough documentation to support their claims. This includes:

  • A letter or prescription from a healthcare professional stating the necessity of a service dog for managing the individual’s disability.
  • Records of all service dog-related expenses, including receipts, invoices, and veterinary bills.
  • Proof of the service dog’s training and certification from an accredited organization, if applicable.

Potential Benefits for Service Dog Handlers:

Apart from tax implications, service dogs offer various benefits to their handlers. These include increased independence, improved safety and security, enhanced mobility, and emotional support. Service dogs are trained to assist individuals in various environments, enabling them to participate more fully in society.

Additionally, under the ADA, service dogs are granted certain rights and protections, such as being allowed access to public places, transportation, and housing, regardless of any pet-related restrictions or policies. These rights help ensure that individuals with disabilities can enjoy equal opportunities and accommodations.


Service dogs are not only invaluable companions but also have implications on taxes for individuals with disabilities in the United States. Through deductions, credits, and potential tax benefits, service dog handlers can alleviate some of the financial burdens associated with their service dog’s care and maintenance. However, it is essential to consult with a tax professional or refer to IRS guidelines to understand the specific requirements and eligibility criteria for claiming these tax benefits.

Expenses that may qualify for tax deductions or credits include acquiring the service dog, training fees, veterinary care, food and specialized diet, and grooming and maintenance expenses directly related to the service dog’s job requirements. However, it’s important to note that not all service dog-related expenses are eligible for tax benefits, and specific criteria must be met.

By navigating the tax landscape, service dog handlers can continue to receive the support they need while enjoying the benefits and companionship provided by their service dogs.

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Everything You Need to Know About Service Dogs

What Is a Service Dog?

Service animals are dogs trained to perform major life tasks to assist people with physical or severe psychiatric impairments/disabilities. Service animals are sometimes referred to as assistance animals, assist animals, support animals, or helper animals depending on the country and the animal’s function.

What Is a Physical Impairment?

A physical impairment is any medical disorder, condition, disfigurement or loss affecting one of the body systems, such as neurological, musculoskeletal, special sense organs, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, reproductive, digestive, genitourinary, immune, circulatory, hemic, lymphatic, skin, and endocrine.

Examples of conditions that are impairments: AIDS, and its symptoms; Alcoholism; Asthma; Blindness or other visual impairments; Cancer; Cerebral palsy; Depression; Diabetes, Epilepsy; Hearing or speech impairments; Heart Disease; Migraine Headaches; Multiple sclerosis; Muscular dystrophy; Orthopedic impairments; Paralysis; complications from Pregnancy; Thyroid gland disorders; Tuberculosis; loss of body parts.

What Are Major Life Tasks?

These activities consist of functions such as caring for yourself, (including, but certainly not limited to bathing, dressing, shaving, preparing a meal, and going to the restroom), performing manual tasks, eating, sleeping, standing, walking, lifting, reaching, bending, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, interacting with others, and working.

As a result of the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, major life activities now also include the operation of any major bodily function, including, but not limited to functions of the immune system, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive (procreation) functions.

Major life activities do NOT include the following:

  • Caring for others
  • Driving
  • Ability to have a relationship
  • Grocery shopping
Do You Need a Letter from a Doctor to Qualify?

It isn’t necessary to possess a letter from a physician that states you are disabled and require a trained service dog, but if someone legally challenges a person claiming to be disabled, proof of the disability will be necessary at that point. What you must be prepared to do when in public is confirm you are disabled and provide credible verbal evidence of what your service dog is trained to do.

How to Get a Service Dog

There are organizations who help pair a service dog with a disabled handler, and the training process takes time, substantial financial investment, and patience. The training begins with basic manners and continues to involve thorough socialization, impulse control and the specialized skills required to support their handler. The formal training procedure typically culminates with passing the Public Access test and Canine Good Citizen Test, which assesses the capability of the dog to be a proper, unobtrusive helpmate in public. Then, the handler and dog are matched and train together to be a working team. The scope of work that goes into preparing a service dog for the responsibility of assisting their handler and acting properly in public goes well beyond what usually occurs in pet dog training. People with disabilities have the legal right to take their service dog to any area where the general public is allowed, from movie theaters to hospitals, even when pets aren’t allowed.

Some handlers train their own pets, but typically begin with public behaviors (good dog manners), obedience, and finally task-specific training. This is a cost-effective method of attaining a service dog.

What Are Your Protection and Rights with a Service Dog?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), 42 U.S.C. 12101, prohibits discrimination on the basis of a “disability” in several critical areas. Those areas include:

  • State and local government services
  • Places of public accommodation
  • Employment
  • Telecommunications
  • Transportation

That means you are entitled by federal law to be accompanied by your service dog anywhere a non-disabled person could go, even when pets are NOT allowed.

Flying with a Service Dog

If you are disabled and have a trained service dog, you have the right to be accompanied by your service dog in the cabin of an aircraft and not be charged a fee. There are some limitations and exceptions that can be made at the discretion of airline personnel, however. For example, the animal must be able to stay on the floor between your knees and the seat in front of you. If the dog is too large or the plane to crowded, they can require you to crate the dog.

Qualify for No Pet (Including Limited Size/Species/Breed) Housing

The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 requires property managers and landlords to make a reasonable accommodation (a change in the rules) to permit a disabled handler to have a service dog and not be charged a pet or other fee. That means if they have a “cats only” policy, they must accept your service dog. If they have a policy that allows dogs weighing no more than 30 lbs. and your service dog weighs 75 lbs., they must make a change in the rules to accommodate you. If they accept all dogs, except pit bulls, and you have a pit bull, they must allow your pit bull to reside with you.

What Kinds of Facilities are Places of Public Accommodation?

A “place of public accommodation” includes almost every type of operation which is open for business or which comes in contact with the general public. Specifically, it includes any commercial facility, operated by a private entity (not the government), whose operations fall within at least one of 12 different categories. A disabled person is protected by law to be accompanied by a service dog in the following areas:

  • Places of lodging.
    • Examples: An inn, a hotel, a motel.
  • Establishments serving food or drink.
    • Examples: A restaurant, a bar.
  • Places of exhibition or entertainment.
    • Examples: A movie house, a theater, a concert hall, a stadium.
  • Places of public gathering.
    • Examples: An auditorium, a convention center, a lecture hall.
  • Sales or rental establishments.
    • Examples: A bakery, a grocery store, a clothing store, a hardware store, a shopping center, bookstores, video rental stores, car rental places, pet stores, jewelry stores.
  • Service establishments.
    • Examples: A laundromat or dry cleaner; a bank, a barber shop, a travel service, a shoe repair shop, a funeral parlor, a gas station, a lawyer’s or doctor’s office, a pharmacy, an insurance office, a hospital.
  • Stations for public transportation.
    • Examples: A terminal, a depot, or other station for transportation by bus, train, or airplane.
  • Places of public display or collection.
    • Examples: A museum, a library, a gallery.
  • Places of recreation.
    • Examples: A park, a zoo, a beach, an amusement park.
  • Places of education.
    • Examples: A nursery or preschool, an elementary, secondary, undergraduate or postgraduate private school.
  • Social service center establishments.
    • Examples: A day care center, a senior citizen center, a homeless shelter, a food bank, an adoption agency, substance abuse treatment centers, rape crisis centers, halfway houses.
  • Places of exercise or recreation.
    • Examples: A gym, a health spa, a bowling alley, a golf course.

It’s important to know that private clubs and religious organizations are NOT considered public accommodations.

Title III of the ADA does not apply to:

  • Private clubs, not open to the public
  • Religious organizations and places of worship

Service Dog Registration and Accessories

Service dog registration is not legally required, nor is your service dog required to wear a service dog vest, service dog patches, or have an ID card. Airline companies and other entities strongly encourage these things, however. If your service dog LOOKS like a service dog, then confrontations will be minimized in public and at the airport. It makes having your service dog with you in public much easier and hassle-free.

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Emotional Support Animal Laws: All You Need to Know

Many people rely on animals for companionship and comfort. They tend to our emotional needs and ask little in return other than some attention, a walk in the park and a bowl of food. To people disabled by mental, psychological or emotional disorders, their animals are more than pets but an integral part of their medical care.

An emotional support animal helps people with mental or emotional disabilities to function with a degree of normalcy. To a person susceptible to panic attacks, anxiety, or other behaviors related to their mental or emotional condition, having the animal around can be a calming presence.

That could mean taking a cat with them for a medical visit, cradling a pig on a passenger air flight, or holding a lizard in a public place. Not every place accessible to the public allows emotional support animals, although many are. Even if you’ve obtained an emotional support animal certification, it helps to be familiar with laws that affect them and your ownership of them.

Legal Challenges

Owners of emotional support animals (ESAs) typically confront resistance from property managers of apartments with no-pet policies or those that charge a substantial fee for having a pet. ESA owners also encounter resistance from managers of public access buildings like theaters and restaurants. These facilities restrict animal access to specially trained service animals like dogs that assist the blind. Emotional support animals are not considered service animals by some companies, so owners of ESAs may also run into resistance from airlines when trying to board with them.

Not every building with public access is required to accept emotional support animals. However, federal law does protect owners diagnosed with emotional, psychological or mental disabilities who want to take their support animals on passenger flights. The owners also have legal protections when it comes to leasing a place to live.


The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 ensures individuals with disabilities who rely on emotional support animals have access to housing – even to properties that restrict pets. Property owners are required under federal law to make “reasonable accommodations” for emotional support animals. They cannot charge an advance deposit or fee for the ESAs but may recover costs from damage the animal causes to the property. Property owners may require individuals with ESAs to present documentation of their disability from the licensed mental health professional treating the individual.

Air Travel

Disabled individuals that want to travel with their emotional support animals sometimes encounter resistance from passenger air carriers. Individuals with ESAs are protected by the Air Carrier Access Act that prohibits discrimination of disabled people who travel by air. This 1990 law prohibits airlines from refusing transportation to or require advance notice from people who are disabled. Air carriers are required to accommodate individuals with emotional support animals.

Air carriers may also require disabled people with ESAs to supply documentation of their disability. In addition, individual airlines may have their own policies regarding emotional support animals accompanying their owners, so it is a good idea to check with their carrier prior to the trip.

Be Aware

The federal laws covering emotional support animals in travel and residential situations prevent discrimination to mentally or psychologically disabled individuals. Documentation from a licensed mental health professional of a mental or psychological condition or disorder is often requested. In some cases, disabled persons apply for emotional support animal certifications to ensure the animals are recognized as essential to the person’s therapy. If an emotional support animal is part of your therapeutic routine, it may be an option worth looking into. Visit our ESA certification page to purchase your own ESA certificate today!

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How to Get a Service Dog for Anxiety

All human beings deal with anxiety to some degree. It’s how we’re wired. Anxiety, for some people, creates a negative impact on life. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), anxiety disorders affect over 40 million adults in the U.S. A growing number of people with anxiety disorders get help from emotional support animals. Also called an ESA, a support animal may be a dog, cat, or even a miniature horse. Learn how you can find a service dog or cat to help with anxiety.

Request a Prescription

Talking with your mental healthcare provider about your anxiety and the possibility of using an emotional support animal as part of your treatment. First, a therapist can help you get the most out of your service animal. Second, they can write a letter for you. While it’s not like a prescription you take to the pharmacy, an emotional support animal letter is your proof that your ESA is a necessary part of your daily life.

Adopt a Service Dog

If you already own a dog, great! Most of your work is already done. If not, you’ll want to find the perfect support pet for your unique needs. As mentioned above, support animals come in many forms, but the majority of people with anxiety get a dog. One of the best ways you can get a service dog is through adoption. Since emotional support animals don’t need to go through certification, and they don’t need to be a certain breed, you’ll find dogs in every animal shelter or rescue organization in the country who would love to be a part of your life. The only qualification is that the dog makes you feel secure and comforts you, especially when you experience symptoms of anxiety.

Training Your ESA

Once you bring your dog home, it’s training time! Not only do you need your dog to learn how best to help you, but it’s also essential for your dog to learn how to be a good citizen. That means training them not to jump on people or lunge at other animals. You want your dog to respond to you and obey your commands. By training, we’re talking about obedience and not being a nuisance when you take the dog out in public. If you and your dog can master sit, stay, down, and heel, you’ll both be welcome just about anywhere you want to go.

Register Your Support Dog

Unlike a certified service animal, you don’t have a legal requirement to register your support pet. Even so, you’ll enjoy several benefits when you register a dog for emotional support. ESA dog registration includes paperwork, which identifies your dog as a support animal. Paperwork is always a plus when you travel with your dog, apply for housing, or take your dog into places where only service dogs are allowed. You can also get a vest for your registered ESA, which is another way to show people your dog is on the official mission of caring for you. Don’t wait to get registered! For questions about ESA registration, contact National Service Animal Registry today at (866) 737-3930.

Frequently Asked Questions About Service Dogs for Anxiety

Do people with anxiety need service dogs?

Anyone suffering from anxiety can benefit tremendously from having a service dog. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recognizes only dogs as service animals for anxiety and other related disabilities. Service dogs are individually trained to perform tasks related to the disability of their handler. For example, service dogs for anxiety are trained to anticipate an anxiety attack, fetch medication, and provide a sense of calm.

In extreme cases of anxiety, where fine motor skills are impaired rendering you incapable of moving your limbs, your service dog can provide immediate physical assistance and help you cope with balance disorders. Regardless of the degree of your anxiety, having a service dog with you at all times will make your day-to-day life easier and reduce the burden of your condition to a great extent. You will have peace of mind knowing that you have someone to rely on during your time of stress.

Can service dogs for anxiety go anywhere?

Service dogs can go anywhere in public with their handler as long as they are harnessed, leashed, or tethered and maintain safe and non-disruptive behavior. Service dogs for anxiety are allowed in stores, hospitals, schools, libraries, parks, theaters, government buildings, restaurants, airplanes, public transportation, beaches, etc. But churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and other places of worship are exempt from the laws of allowing service dogs. A service dog is a part of your anxiety treatment and is not considered a pet. Therefore, all entities covered under the ADA are required to make reasonable modifications to their policies to accommodate people with disabilities and their service dogs.

If you own a service animal for anxiety, we recommend you to register it to make life easier for you and your dog. We provide lifetime registration for service animals based on a therapist-conducted screening. You can use this registration to avoid confrontations and hassles while taking your service dog out in public places.

Is social anxiety a reason to get a service dog?

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is one of the major types of anxiety disorder. The term is interchangeably used with ‘Social Phobia’. Typically, SAD is characterized as extreme self-consciousness and nervousness in a social setting. This can be large social gatherings, one-on-one social engagements, or everyday social situations. SAD affects millions of people globally. If you have been diagnosed with SAD or anxiety disorder by a licensed healthcare practitioner, you are qualified to get a service dog under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you do not have an official diagnosis, you can request our “no-risk” PSD letter assessment. Once you are diagnosed with anxiety by a licensed therapist, you will become eligible to get a service dog for anxiety for all types of anxiety disorders.

What type of anxiety qualifies for a service dog?

Anyone suffering from mental, physical, psychiatric, sensory, or intellectual disability can get a service dog. Anxiety is a form of mental disability that warrants the usage of service dogs as a legitimate treatment procedure. There are different types of anxiety disorders which include Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). If you have been diagnosed with any of these specific types by a licensed practitioner, you are eligible to get a service dog that is specifically trained for the type of disability you have been diagnosed with.

Can dogs detect anxiety?

Dogs are sensitive animals. They have a highly evolved sense of smell which is 10,000 to 100,000 times more powerful than the human nose. When a human begins to experience an anxiety attack, it causes an increase in adrenaline and cortisol hormones along with elevated heart rate and sweating. Since dogs have super-sensitive noses, they can smell this change in hormones. This is why they see a panic attack coming way before you can. When dogs detect anxiety, they respond by trying to calm and reassure their owners or become anxious themselves. When you are feeling anxious, spending time with your dog will lower your heart rate and make you feel safe. Trainers build on this capability and train service dogs to identify other signals of anxiety in their handlers. You can also train your support dog for anxiety to calm you when you are experiencing anxiety.

Does anxiety warrant a service dog?

Anyone undergoing treatment for anxiety can get a service dog. However, it’s also important to understand that anxiety does not mandate having a service dog. Depending on the severity of your condition and the treatment procedure, your mental health provider may prescribe different ways to cope with anxiety. But if you feel the need for companionship, you can discuss using a service dog as a part of your treatment with your therapist. Having a service dog will make your life easier. Service dogs for anxiety are specially trained to perform tasks like reminding you to take medication, pulling a wheelchair, bringing medicine and water during an anxiety attack, and so on. 
If you already own a dog, you can either train them yourself to assist you correctly in your times of need or you can enroll them in a service training program. If you do not own a dog, a doctor needs to verify your physical and mental limitations through an assessment to confirm whether a service dog will be of help. Once you are qualified, you can get in touch with an agency to help you locate a dog trained for your disability. Even though the wait and the adjustment period combined can be time-consuming, it’s worth it. Your perfect match will change your life for the better. It feels even more fulfilling when you realize that not only did you gain a great degree of independence with your service animal for anxiety by your side but also managed to help a dog find a home and a job.

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Does Your Service Dog Have Diabetes?

Over the last 10 years, there has been a massive increase in canine diabetes. In animals, just as in humans, it is a growing epidemic. It’s vitally important that Service Dog owners recognize the symptoms of diabetes because caught early it can be controlled and dogs can live a full life. On the other hand, left untreated diabetes can have long-term consequences and can even be fatal.

The aim of this article is to provide all the information you need to recognize the symptoms of diabetes, plus information about causes and treatment options.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that occurs when the pancreas either stops producing insulin, doesn’t produce enough, or the body doesn’t respond to it correctly.

Insulin acts as a “gatekeeper” in muscle, fat and liver cells, by enabling these cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Service dogs, like all dogs and cats, need glucose for energy in the same way that humans do.

Insulin also helps the liver to store excess glucose. When too much sugar is present in the system insulin signals the liver to stop releasing it into the bloodstream.

If your Service Dog doesn’t have enough insulin in its system, there are two consequences. Firstly, the cells can’t absorb glucose so excessive sugar levels will build up in the bloodstream. High levels of glucose act like a poison and can cause damage to the eyes, heart, kidneys, muscles, and nerves.

Secondly, insulin is the gatekeeper that signals to the organs and muscles that they should absorb glucose to use for energy. Without it, the organs and muscles don’t get the fuel they need and start to break down protein and fats to use as fuel instead.

Type I and Type II Diabetes

The two main types of diabetes are Type I and Type II.

Type I Diabetes is also called Insulin-Deficient Diabetes. This is the most common form of diabetes in dogs. In Type I Diabetes the pancreas is damaged and doesn’t produce any insulin.

Type II Diabetes is also called Insulin-Resistant Diabetes. It is possible for your service dog to suffer from Type II Diabetes, but it is rare. In Type II Diabetes, the pancreas produces some insulin but not enough, and the body doesn’t use it as it should. This normally occurs in older, obese dogs. Sometimes female dogs get Type II Diabetes when they are on heat or pregnant.

What causes diabetes?

Obesity: Dogs are more likely to suffer from diabetes if they are obese (a good reason to help your service dog maintain a good weight). Obesity causes insulin resistance and leads to pancreatitis. Pancreatitis often causes damage to the pancreas which results in it no longer being able to produce insulin.

Steroids:Long-term use of steroids for the treatment of other disorders can lead to diabetes.

Other diseases:Cushing’s Disease causes overproduction of steroids in the body which can cause diabetes. Dogs that suffer from other autoimmune and viral diseases can also be more prone to diabetes.

Genetics: It doesn’t matter that your service dog is a mixed breed; Mixed breeds are just as likely to get diabetes as pure-breeds. Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to diabetes than others, such as Miniature PoodlesBichons FrisesPugsDachshundsMiniature SchnauzersPuli, Samoyeds, Keeshonds, Australian Terriers, Fox Terriers, Cairn Terriers, and Beagles.

Female dogs and older dogs (5+ years) are also more likely to suffer from diabetes.

How do I know if my service dog has diabetes?

The four classic signs of diabetes are increased frequency of urination, excessive thirst and hunger, and weight loss.

Increased urination: A dog suffering from diabetes will urinate more frequently because a lack of insulin means glucose in the bloodstream is not converted into energy. As glucose builds up, the body will try to get rid of the excess of sugar by urinating more frequently and in more volume. Your Service Dog might also have accidents in the house.

Excessive thirst: Increased urination leads to dehydration so a dog with diabetes often appears to be thirsty all the time.

Increased hunger: Dogs with diabetes often feel constantly hungry. As glucose failes to get to the brain, the brain sends out a signal that the body is starving, so your service dog keeps eating to try to get the nutrients it needs.

Dramatic weight loss:As there is no insulin present to signal to the cells they need to absorb glucose for energy, the body does not get the fuel it needs. This often causes dramatic weight loss.

If your service dog is displaying any of the following symptoms, they might have advanced diabetes.

Extreme lack of energy and/or loss of appetite: If your service dog seems to have less energy than they used to, starts sleeping excessively or loses interest in food, it might be a sign of advanced diabetes. This is caused by the cells not getting the fuel they need from glucose absorption.

Depression:Dogs with diabetes often appear to be depressed. This is caused by too many ketones in the body due to insulin deficiency.

Vomiting:Older dogs are prone to vomiting in the advanced stages of diabetes, as are females, dachshunds, and miniature poodles.

How is diabetes diagnosed?

If your Service Dog displays symptoms of diabetes, ask your Veterinarian to do blood and urine tests.

Elevated levels of glucose in the blood is a sign of diabetes, but it can also be a sign of stress, so if you are in doubt ask for further tests.

Blood tests can show other indications that your service dog may have diabetes, such as high liver enzymes and electrolyte imbalances. The sooner diabetes is diagnosed, the more chance there is that treatment will be effective, and your dog will be able to live a normal life.

How is canine diabetes treated?

Diabetes cannot be cured, but it can be treated effectively, particularly if it is caught early.

The aim of the treatment is to normalize sugar levels. Treatment usually involves a combination of insulin injections, diet, and exercise. Your Veterinarian will make a personalized plan for your service dog, taking into account his glucose levels, weight, general health, and exercise habits.

Most dogs with diabetes will need to be injected with insulin twice a day after meals. Your Veterinarian will choose which form of insulin is most suitable for him. It can take a few months to get the dose of insulin right, so you may need to take him for weekly checkups until his insulin level is normalized. Injections must be given at the same time every day. Don’t be surprised if your vet requires your service dog to have the glucose level in their blood to be measured every day using a pinprick test.

If you are consistent with the injections, monitoring, and check-ups, your Service Dog should be able to live a healthy life and is less likely to suffer from complications. Remember, if you go away and leave your dog in the care of other people, it is vital they are also confident following the treatment plan.

You might feel worried at first about giving injections but you’ll soon find it a very quick and easy process. Your Veterinarian will give you precise instructions on how to administer the injections including how to check you have the correct concentration of insulin in the syringe. Your service dog will not feel any pain. Insulin doesn’t hurt, the needles are small and injections are given under skin so they can’t damage any organs.


If your Service Dog is obese, your Veterinarian will advise you how to get his weight under control through diet and exercise. Be prepared that this might take a few months. It is essential to get your service dog’s weight to a normal level as it is very difficult to treat dogs with diabetes if they are overweight.


In order to keep track of your Service Dog’s health, it’s a good idea to keep a chart with daily glucose levels, insulin dose, diet, and weekly weight so patterns can be checked and treatment adjusted as necessary.


It may be necessary to hospitalize your Service Dog at first for tests and treatment. After this, he will be able to go home and you can take over his care.

If your Service Dog already has advanced diabetes and has stopped eating and drinking for several days, he might require longer hospitalization with intensive medical treatment.

How much does treatment for diabetes cost?

The cost of treatment will vary according to your Veterinarian and the health of your dog. Initially, you will need to pay for regular checkups and possibly hospitalization. Once the glucose levels are normalized, the cost of insulin, needles, and diet are not high.

The cost of treating a dog in the advanced stages of diabetes is much higher, however, so it’s important to get treatment as early as possible and be consistent with injections and monitoring.

What is the best diet for a dog with diabetes?

If your Service Dog is diagnosed with diabetes, your Veterinarian will advise you about the best diet. It’s important not to change his food suddenly without proper advice.

Both the type and amount of food your dog eats will have to be regulated. Normally, diabetic dogs are put on a diet that is low in fat and high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. These foods are lower in sugar and slow the absorption of glucose which means your Service Dog will not have to cope with large amounts of glucose at one time.

Giving your Service Dog a balanced diet will help regulate his glucose levels. Never give your dog treats meant for humans as these can be dangerously high in sugar.

Feed him twice a day just before his insulin injections. If you are used to leaving food out for your dog to eat when he’s hungry, you are likely to need to change this habit. It’s much more difficult with “free feeding” to accurately measure the amount of food your dog is consuming.

As well as a balanced diet, moderate and consistent exercise is vital for maintaining blood sugar levels.

What if my Service Dog doesn’t get better?

Sometimes it takes a while to find the correct dose of insulin for a dog with diabetes. Regular checkups with your Veterinarian are vital and you may need to check your dog’s glucose levels at home.

If his appetite suddenly increases or he seems thirstier than usual, contact your Veterinarian immediately. If your Service Dog suddenly gets very lethargic or groggy it could be a sign that his blood-sugar levels are dangerous.

Complications of diabetes

Dogs with diabetes are prone to complications. These include Urinary Tract Infections because of the high levels of sugar in the urine. In addition, it is very important for dogs with diabetes to have their teeth cleaned regularly as oral infections can cause increases in blood sugar.

If your Service Dog has diabetes, he is also more likely to get cataracts. Dogs often cope well with reduced sight because their hearing and sense of smell are so acute.

There are other complications of diabetes particularly involving the liver and kidneys, and dogs with diabetes are also prone to seizures.

One of the most serious complications of diabetes is Ketoacidosis which is caused by the liver breaking down fat into ketones. This is often caused by a combination of low insulin levels and another infection, surgery, or stress.

Ketoacidosis is potentially life-threatening. Symptoms include sweet breath, panting, dehydration, lethargy, vomiting. As part of your management plan, your Veterinarian may give you ketone measuring sticks so you can monitor the level of ketones and catch an increase before it becomes a problem. If your dog shows increased levels, or displays any of the symptoms mentioned above, consult with your Veterinarian immediately.

Final words

Diabetes is a very serious disease and shouldn’t be underestimated. If your Service Dog displays any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is vital you consult your Veterinarian immediately. If caught early, treatment can be very effective, and your dog will be able to live a full life. Left untreated, however, it can lead to many other health issues.

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If Emotional Support Animals Are Banned From Planes

Airlines are lobbying for stricter rules regarding emotional support animals on airplanes. In recent years, the number of people flying with an emotional support animal has ballooned and airlines feel frustrated by what they feel are people blatantly taking advantage of the system to fly their animal for free…and sometimes even endangering the passengers and crew with an untrained animal. But while there are undoubtedly fraudsters banking on a free ride for their pet, banning all emotional support animals will leave many travelers who genuinely need their emotional support animal vulnerable and unable to fly.

The proposed changes by the Transportation Department would allow only service animals in the main cabin of the airplane, while asking that emotional support animals be treated as pets. What exactly does that mean?

What’s the Difference Between A Service Animal, Emotional Support Animal, and A Pet?

Well, a service animal is a dog (and in some cases, a miniature horse) trained to perform major life tasks to assist people with physical or severe psychiatric impairments/disabilities.

An emotional support animal on the other hand is like a pet in that it does not need to be trained. It has, however, been prescribed by a licensed mental health professional, such as a licensed therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist. The animal is part of the treatment program for this person and is meant to bring comfort and minimize the negative symptoms of the person’s emotional/psychological disability.

And we all know what a pet is.

But, how does the definition of your animals’ role translate into flying?

The Various Animals and Their Places Onboard a Plane

Right now, both a service animal and an emotional support animal are treated with special privileges onboard planes, while pets are treated with…a few less rights. For example, both a service animal and an emotional support animal is allowed to be both in the cabin of the plane and outside of a cage (such as on their person’s lap).

Neither a service animal nor an emotional support animal costs anything to travel with, while travelling with a pet incurs a fee.

To summarize, taking a pet on board involves the following:

  • Paying a fee (up to 125$ each direction)
  • Keeping the animal in a cage under the seat, size permitting, or
  • Flying the animal as cargo

Plenty of people do not want to pay the fee, but more troubling for many is flying an animal as cargo. For one thing, crates can be knocked about and treated like luggage, without consideration for the animal inside. Also, luggage can fall on the cage during turbulence. For another thing, changes in temperature and air pressure can be more pronounced in the cargo, and it’s very loud, with lots of strange smells. All of this compounds to mean that a ride in cargo is an overall distressing experience for any animal.

Of course, that is not even to mention the experience of the person flying without their emotional support animal. The problem is that a person who needs to be able to stroke their emotional support animal to stave off severe anxiety or PTSD, will be out of luck if this ruling goes through. Many will simply stop flying. Why do people feel so strongly about needing their emotional support animal on board the flight?

Why Do People Fly with Their Emotional Support Animals?

Some need to have their animal within range to stroke the entire duration of a flight to feel relaxed and at ease. Others are comforted just by being close to their animal. Emotional support animals can reduce stress, soothe anxiety and alleviate emotional traumas.

For some, flying itself is a trigger and can be stressful without their emotional support animal.

For others, while they are comfortable traveling and don’t really need to have their emotional support animal on the plane, they will need to have it on the other end of the flight. And for the reasons mentioned above, many people simply don’t want to put their ESA in cargo—especially considering their reliance on these animals.

So, if cargo is not a welcome or even acceptable option, but the emotional support animal is needed for insomnia or severe stress once at the destination, then what is to be done?


While it is true that exorbitant pet fees have likely been the prime motivation for some people making their pet into an emotional support animal, there are plenty of others who are motivated by a real emotional need. Hopefully, a solution is found that does not punish those who really need their emotional support animal and flying can continue to be a part of their lives.

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San Diego, CA: A Great Place to Visit with Your Service Dog

San Diego is often called “The Birthplace of California,” because of its historical importance as the first location visited by Europeans. Today, San Diego is the second largest city in California and an important part of commerce in the area.

Despite being a huge city, San Diego manages to be very dog friendly, and a wonderful place to bring your service dog or emotional support animal. Here are just a few great, dog-friendly places you can go with your furry friend.

Take your emotional support animal to a restaurant

If you own a service dog, you know that your dog must be admitted in all public locations. Emotional support animals however, do not get the same treatment. If you still want to visit a great restaurant and bring a dog who maybe doesn’t quite meet service dog standards with you, there are several dog friendly locations happy to serve you.

Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar

Not only will Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar let you bring your companion animal or pet to sit with you on the patio, they even have a dog friendly menu. Your dog can choose from a grilled hamburger patty, chicken breast or brown rice. Water is complimentary. You can visit at 1202 Camino Del Rio N San Diego, and experience their high quality service for yourself.


Another restaurant that serves a dog menu, Slaters offers 50/50 burger patty, turkey patty, beef, bacon and chicken strips as options for your dog. They welcome all leashed dogs on their patio. For the owners, you can look forward to 50 different beers to choose from, as well as burgers and other comfort foods.

It’s a great place your dog will enjoy, whether he’s perusing the menu for a little off duty fun, or hard at work as your loyal service dog. You can find them at 2750 Dewey Rd #193 San Diego, California 92106

Stay at a dog friendly hotel

Service dogs are welcome at any hotel, but there are special perks to choosing a dog friendly one. When a hotel is prepared for dogs, they tend to have amenities such as green spaces for your dog to potty in, rooms on lower floors for easy access, and sometimes even goodie bags for your animal.

If you have a service dog or an emotional support dog you need to bring along with you, Porto Vista at 1835 Columbia Street, San Diego, CA 92101 is a great choice. They are right across the street from a dog park, and are located near several dog friendly eateries as well as accepting dogs in their hotel. It’s a wonderful place to bring your dog, whether he’s a pet or a working dog.

Planning a move?

The Village Mission Valley has everything you need in order to enjoy apartment living with your service dog or emotional support dog. This includes amenities such as a private dog park, so you can relax with your dog and get to know your neighbors in a pleasant manner.

It also has plenty of amenities for you too, such as a fitness center and a pool. See for yourself at 6555 Ambrosia Drive San Diego, CA.

Visit a dog park

There are plenty of dog parks available in San Diego of all different sizes. If your service dog is hoping for a little off duty fun, or you want to give your emotional support animal a fun outing, visiting a dog park is the way to go.

There are lots of dog parks out there, but the Kearney Mesa Dog Park is a local favorite. It features golf course like, plush grass, drinking fountains for you and your dog, poop bags, benches, and other important amenities. It isn’t the largest dog park in San Diego, but it is definitely a favorite due to the relaxed nature of the park.

Take your dog to Little Italy Mercato Farmers’ Market

Unfortunately, most farmers’ markets in the Los Angeles area frown on dogs at open air markets, despite the fact that they are held outdoors. Although your service dog will always be an exception to the rule, if you don’t like people asking about your working dog, it can be awkward taking your dog to these areas. In these cases, we recommend your dog to wear a service dog vest, so other patrons know not to disrupt your dog at work.

This Saturday market is an exception to the rule in this area, and gladly welcomes polite, leashed dogs. Enjoy farm fresh eggs, amazing produce, and homemade goods at this beautiful market held every Saturday. Click here for durable, American-made, service leashes to take your dog to the market.

Need veterinary care?

It is vitally important that your service dog be kept in good condition, so he can keep taking care of you. 4Paw Animal hospital at 16625 Dove Canyon Road, Suite #106 has everything you need to keep your service dog in top physical condition. They are AAHA accredited, and can handle a wide range of problems including preventative care, surgery, and behavioral problems.

They can also handle your grooming needs, should your dog need maintenance of its coat and nails as well as general physical health.

Explore the tide pools

Cabrillo Tide Pools Trail is a half mile trail you and your service dog can complete in about an hour. The trail is the only part of the Cabrillo National Monument leashed dogs are permitted on, so be prepared for people to warn you that your dog is not permitted there. If you would rather not have the hassle, you may want to use equipment that identifies your dog as a service dog.

Dogs must be kept strictly on leash so be mindful of the rules while you are letting your dog explore the wonderful ecosystems present at the tidepools. You can visit the tidepool at 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA, US, 92106.

San Diego is a wonderful place full of exciting, dog-friendly places you can take your dog to. Keep his tail wagging with these wonderful, dog-friendly locations that he’ll love.

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How To Say Goodbye

None of us want to think about what will happen when our service dog gets old or sick. We depend on them for so many things; perhaps most importantly, for companionship. We don’t want to imagine what our lives would be like without them, or that we might have to make a difficult decision when they reach the end of their life.

Naturally, we’d prefer for our service dogs to pass peacefully in their sleep, but more often than not there comes a point where we have to think about euthanasia. Having an animal in our lives is a privilege, and with that privilege comes responsibility. Making the decision to put our pets to sleep is often the kindest thing to do in the end.

The aim of this article is to provide you with all the information you need so you know what to expect when the time comes. Saying goodbye to your best friend is never going to be easy, but being well informed about the process will hopefully make the journey smoother for you and help you prepare for the decisions you will need to make.

How to know when the time is right

One of the hardest things about euthanasia is the fact that, ultimately, we have to make the final decision. This can be particularly difficult for older service dogs who have deteriorated gradually.

How do we decide when it’s the right time? What if we make the decision too early? How can we know that today is the right day? Are they so much worse than they were yesterday? How do we know how they will be tomorrow?

It’s very important to remember that you don’t have to make this decision on your own. Your vet, who is objective and less emotionally involved, will be able to advise you, so make sure you ask for their help and guidance. Ask as many questions as you need to in order to make the decision. You might also be able to get support and advice from friends and family, particularly if they have been through this too.

It might help you to come to terms with the decision if you look at photographs or videos of your when they were younger. If you see how much they have changed and are struggling now in comparison, it might make you realize that the time is right.

Assessing your service dog’s quality of life

In the end, making a decision about pet euthanasia often comes down to their quality of life. If you have had a close relationship with your service dog, you will not want them to suffer. You want them to die with dignity, free of pain. Your vet will be able to help you assess their quality of life. It might help for you to consider these questions.

  • Is your service dog suffering from chronic pain that can’t be controlled by medication?
  • Is he experiencing frequent vomiting? Is he continent?
  • Does he find it difficult to breathe?
  • Is he taking in enough water? Is he able to drink independently?
  • Is he eating voluntarily? Is he interested in food?
  • Is his coat healthy? Are all pressure spots and wounds clean?
  • Does he still want to do the things he has always enjoyed? Is he keen to go for a walk? Does he respond to his favorite people? Is he interested in his favorite toys?
  • Is he able to stand and walk on his own?

If you are responding negatively to many of these questions, it’s time to get your vet’s opinion about the right course of action for your animal.

How to prepare

Once the decision to go ahead with euthanasia is made, you may find it difficult to hand over all control to the vet. You might experience feelings of powerless, which can be hard to deal with. It might help if you focus on the parts you can control, such as where the procedure will take place and how you can make it as comfortable as you can for your dog or cat.

It might also help to make a plan for what will happen afterward. Organizing a memorial for our pets can help us process grief, just like it does when we organize a person’s funeral. It’s also a good idea to make these arrangements in advance to take the pressure off the period immediately after the procedure, when you might not be up to it.

Anticipate the fact that organizing payment following the procedure might not be easy for you emotionally, so ask your vet in advance how much it will cost and how you will pay. It might be possible to settle the bill beforehand, so you don’t have to think about it afterward.

What will happen

Although you may not feel like hearing all the details, getting as much information as you can from your vet about the options will help you make an informed decision on behalf of your beloved animal and to prepare yourself.

Sometimes, it’s possible for the vet to come to your home to carry out the procedure. If you think this would be easier for you, ask the vet if it’s an option. On the other hand, you may prefer to personally take your pet to the vet’s office or animal hospital and remain with him or her, while others choose to say goodbyes and not be present for the procedure. Remember, everyone copes differently, and there is no shame in leaving the final act to the vet.

The procedure

If you are planning to be present at the end, it’s a good idea to know what to expect so you are prepared. The procedure will vary according to the vet and the animal, so ask for it to be explained to you beforehand. Ask all the questions you need to; nothing is too trivial. This is will help you prepare.

Normally, pets are put to sleep by an overdose of anesthetic. In larger animals, such as dogs and cats, this is injected into a vein; in smaller animals, it is normally injected into the abdomen following sedation.

Vets sometimes sedate larger animals too but may opt not to do so, as this can make the animals sick. It can also make it harder for the vet to find a vein and carry out the procedure smoothly.

Remember, even if they are not sedated, all your service dog will feel is the prick of the needle. The whole thing will be over very quickly, as the anesthetic reaches the heart in seconds.

For smaller animals, the procedure is likely to take place on a table, and for larger ones it might be carried out on the floor. The vet will have to hold the animal in a certain way, so he/she is likely to tell you where you can stand (or sit) so your animal can hear your voice and feel your presence while giving your vet the room he/she needs.

Sometimes animals have a reaction after death that can be upsetting if you’re not expecting it. Some might gasp or make a noise; they might twitch or empty their bowels. Remember, your service dog and is unaware of this; it is it completely normal.

What happens next?

Don’t worry if you feel upset and cry or find it hard to control your emotions. Your vet will have performed this procedure many times and will have seen a wide range of reactions. You may surprise yourself by being calm, especially if you are well prepared. You might also feel some relief on behalf of your service dog, if they have been suffering. People react in very different ways, and each one is perfectly natural.

If the procedure takes place at the vet’s office, you will be given time afterward to say goodbye to your service dog. You will have decided beforehand if your vet is going to organize a cremation,,if you prefer to do this for yourself.

If your pet didn’t have an infectious disease, you can opt to take him or her home with you. If you wish the arrange a burial or cremation at a pet cemetery the international association of pet cemeteries and crematories will be able to direct you to one in your area. If you wish to bury him yourself or scatter his ashes, you’ll want to check with the local authority to see if there are any restrictions.

How to cope with grief following the loss of your beloved animal

No one who has had a strong bond with a pet will be surprised to hear that losing a beloved animal can be as difficult as losing a person you are close to. Some people feel quite isolated, lonely, and even depressed when they lose their service dog. It can be difficult to express your feelings, particularly if you think the people around you don’t understand.

If you have friends and family who have been through it, reach out to them for help. It helps to talk to someone who has been there, and it’s important that you don’t bottle up your grief. If you don’t have sympathetic people close to you, try to find a support network. Ask your doctor about local support and counseling. It’s important that you find someone you can talk to.

Sometimes the fact that you had to make the final decision can weigh heavily on you. You might experience feelings of guilt and self-doubt. Remember, you made the decision in consultation with your vet, and you were doing what was best for your service dog by relieving them of their pain and letting them pass with dignity.

Sometimes it helps to create a memorial for your pet. Some people have a portrait painted, or make a scrapbook of photos and memories. You might like to think about having a stone in your garden or planting a tree. Some people like to donate to an animal charity. If you’re struggling to come to terms with the passing of your pet, you may consider writing down your feelings in a journal. Sometimes expressing feelings on paper helps you to come to terms with them.

When is it time to get a new service dog?

Some of us need a service dog in order to be able to carry out the functions of our everyday life. If this is the case for you, however difficult it sounds, it’s a good idea to start making arrangements to find another animal to love – and don’t feel guilty about it. You will have great memories of your old friend, but that doesn’t stop you from making new memories, or new friends.

If your needs are not immediate, take your time and don’t put yourself under pressure to make a decision. Ultimately, you need to think about your quality of life and how much you benefit from having a service dog.

Final words

Saying goodbye to a service dog can be extremely difficult, particularly if we have to make the decision to put them to sleep. When they reach a point where they do not have a good quality of life and they are having more bad days than good, we need to take a step back and think about what is best for them.

The strong feelings you might experience in the period after they have gone are nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, they are a testament to the special bond you shared with your pet.

Although you might be in pain now, know that you will recover. You have done the best thing for your service dog and you will always have those very special memories.