If you have a physical or mental impairment or disability that requires the assistance of a service dog, any expenses associated with your dog’s care may be deductible on your tax return. Just like a wheelchair or any other medical device, service dogs are viewed as a necessary medical aid for those with disabilities. As such, their care is considered to be part of your medical expenses, and are therefore tax deductible. If you have a service dog, here’s what you need to know about these tax deductions.
What Expenses Qualify?
Because your dog is an essential part of living with your disability, any expenses associated with their care can be deducted on your tax return. This includes but is not limited to the following types of expenses:
Cost of training
Equipment (harnesses, vests, leashes, etc.)
Cost of purchasing the service dog
Just as the upkeep of a medical device would be a deduction on your tax return, so too are the costs of caring for your service dog deductible as a medical expense.
How to Claim Your Deduction
As we mentioned, the care of your service dog would fall under the category of medical expenses when you’re deducting them on your taxes. However, not everyone can deduct their medical expenses. Your total expenses from the year must exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income. (This is the threshold for 2019, and may change for future years.)
If your total medical expenses exceed this threshold, you can deduct any medical expenses over the threshold amount on your return, including those costs mentioned above. To do so, you will need to itemize your expenses and provide proof of those costs alongside your tax return; that means keeping copies of any receipts associated with your service dog’s care.
Assuming you qualify to deduct medical expenses, and you have all of the supporting documentation to itemize those deductions, you can claim your deductions using IRS Form 1040 and attaching Schedule A. However, you should really consider enlisting the aid of a tax professional if you’re hoping to claim this deduction, as the information above is just a general guideline, and claiming this deduction is complicated.
Who Can Claim Service Dog Expenses?
In addition to meeting the criteria mentioned above, you must be able to provide documentation proving your disability, as well as your reliance on a service dog to live with your disability. Typically, a letter from a medical professional providing care for your disability is sufficient evidence for the IRS. Your dog must also be a trained, certified, and registered service dog to qualify as a medical aid, so if you haven’t looked into a service dog registry yet, you should do so; this also means that ESAs don’t qualify, as they aren’t trained to perform a specific task.
If you want to register your dog as a service animal, we offer the best service dog registry available online. Register your dog through the National Service Animal Registry today and contact a tax professional if you have any questions regarding deducting your service dog’s care on your tax return.
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
Ability to have a relationship
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Poodles, Bichons Frises, Pugs, Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers, Puli, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many people feel overwhelmed and confused about the rules governing service dogs and Emotional Support Animals.
This is worrying because it means people who are already living with disabilities sometimes are not taking advantage of all the privileges they are entitled to and that will make their lives easier.
Even worse, it also means that people get put off registering their pets in the first place and struggle on without their support needlessly.
If you find the rules confusing, know you are not alone. Read on for an outline of the law, and if you need any further help, advice, or support – contact us.
We’ve been helping people with service animals and Emotional Support Animals for over 25 years. It’s our job to keep up with changes in the law and find solutions to help our clients. We’d love to help you too!
What’s the Difference Between a Service Animal and an Emotional Support Animal?
A service animal is usually a dog (or sometimes a miniature horse) who is trained to carry out specific tasks for someone who is physically or psychiatrically impaired. Service animals are also known as assistance animals, assist animals, support animals, or helper animals depending on the tasks the animal is trained to carry out and the country.
In order to qualify for a service dog, you must have difficulty performing at least one major life activity without assistance. Although you don’t need a letter from a doctor to qualify for a service animal, if you are legally challenged you will have to provide documentation that provides proof of your disability.
In contrast, an Emotional Support Animal doesn’t carry out specific tasks for their human companion, but they help people with emotional or mental health conditions stay calm in a situation that might otherwise be triggering for them.
In order to qualify for an Emotional Support Animal, they must have been prescribed by a licensed therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist, which means they become part of your treatment plan. Although it’s not a legal requirement to register your Emotional Support Animal, doing so legitimizes your animal and means you have less trouble and less explaining to do when you need to take them into places where they are not usually allowed.
Housing Rights for People With Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals
According to The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, landlords and property managers are required to allow a service animal or Emotional Support Animal to live with their owner even in properties where pets are otherwise not allowed and they cannot charge you an additional fee.
This means if they have a “cats only” policy, and your service animal or Emotional Support Animal is a dog, they must allow them to live with you. They are also not allowed to discriminate about animals of a certain size or breed.
Flying with Your Service Animal and Emotional Support Animal
According to the Air Carrier Access Act, airlines must allow you to fly with your service animal or Emotional Support Animal in the cabin with you and they may not charge you an extra fee.
If you have a service animal, you do not legally need to provide documentation, although you do need to be able to explain to airline staff which tasks your service dog assists you with. Although you’re not legally obliged to, airlines ask that your service animal wears identifying patches or a vest, a service leash, and an ID card from a creditable agency like the National Service Animal Registry.
For more information about flying with your service dog, read our guide.
The rules are slightly different for an Emotional Support Animal.
Although airlines must allow you to fly with your service animal in the cabin and must not charge you an extra fee, you do need to provide documentation. You must have a letter from a licensed therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist and some airlines will also require your therapist, or physician to fill in a form. We can help you get all the documentation you need, click here for more information.
Like with service dogs, owners of Emotional Support Animals are advised to get service patches, a vest, a service leash, and an ID card for their animal before they fly. Although you are not obliged to do this legally, it is a requirement for most airlines and will mean you encounter fewer problems when traveling with your Emotional Support Animal.
For detailed information about flying with your Emotional Support Animal, read our guide.
Taking Your Service Animal Or Emotional Support Animals Into Public Places
According to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) people with service dogs must be allowed into places of public accommodation, which is pretty much any business open to the public except private clubs and places of worship.
This means you can take your service dog along to restaurants and bars, movie theaters and libraries, shops, schools, gyms and hospitals.
The rules are different for people with Emotional Support Animals. There is currently no legal requirement for places of public accommodation to allow you to bring along your ESA.
You may find, however, that having a fully registered ESA with an ID card and identifying patches, vest, and service leash means staff in public places are more likely to let your ESA accompany you.
Click here for more detailed information about your legal rights for your Emotional Support Animal.
Different Rules For Service Dogs and Emotional Support Animals
The rules do vary slightly between service animals and ESAs, but remember, we’re always here to offer you help, support, and advice. If you need any further information about these or any other issues about service and Emotional Support Animals, please contact us.
A service dog can be a major asset to your life if you suffer from a disability. This could be anxiety, physical ailment, or emotional disability. While some people reach out to an organization to provide the animal, others would prefer to use their own dog. Many feel the process will be easier with their own dog as they already feel comfortable with them. For many people, hiring a professional to train your dog with you is the best way of making them a support animal. Others would rather attempt the training on their own. Here are some tips for properly training your dog to be a support animal.
Find Your Dog
If you don’t already have the dog you want to make your support animal, you will have to find one. It’s widely believed that the breed of the dog is an important factor. It’s actually the temperament that is most important rather than the breed. When choosing a dog to be trained as a support animal, you want one that is intelligent and trainable. For this reason, it’s best to choose a dog between six months and a year in age. Ideally, you’ll want to choose a dog that will approach you without hesitation and doesn’t show aggression, such as growling. A dog that desires contact with you is also good as this shows it’s more docile.
The first part of training a service dog is making sure that they understand basic commands and obedience. These basic commands, such as “sit” and “down,” are useful for any dog but are more important for service dogs. An important aspect of a service dog that separates them from others is their obedience. A service animal must have excellent obedience skills in order to help you. An important aspect of training is to ensure that they don’t get distracted by sniffing other animals or people. This training is often done by having someone walk up to you while the dog is looking at you. If the dog looks at the other person, they should look right back to you. This is because they need to know to pay attention to you and not become distracted. During these early stages of training, the dog is often rewarded with treats.
When training your dog to be a service animal, you’ll teach them specific skills. These skills will depend on your disability because those with different disabilities will need their service dog to perform different tasks. While dogs are smart and can learn many skills, they can only take in so much information in a short period of time. To avoid overwhelming your dog, the skills should be taught slowly, step by step. For example, if you’re teaching your dog to retrieve keys, you first need them to respond to the word “keys.” Then you need to teach them to pick the keys up and bring them to you. It’s best to teach these skills in five to ten minute intervals.
Living with a disability can be made easier with the assistance of a support dog. Properly training the dog is essential to ensuring that they are qualified to help you when needed.
Nearly one in four people in the United States experiences some kind of emotional or mental condition. Getting treatment for mental health conditions is not always easy. Sometimes, however, the solution may be found in your very own home. Emotional support animals can make a huge difference for so many people. But how do you qualify to get one? Keep reading to learn a few essential tips for getting an emotional support dog.
Obtain an Emotional Support Animal Letter
To qualify for an emotional support animal, you will need to obtain an ESA letter from a certified mental health professional. You can get one of the letters from your therapist, psychiatrist, licensed counselor, or any other mental health doctor. If you are interested in getting an ESA, talk to your doctor to first decide if it is the right choice for you. They will evaluate your needs and determine if you would benefit from having a support dog. Following their assessment, they will write a letter stating that you have an emotional or mental condition and testify that an ESA is vital to your overall wellbeing.
The letter should be written on the doctor’s official letterhead. It should also include the date, their signature, their medical license number, and the date and place where their license was first issued. The letter remains valid for a year. Your landlord or airline carrier will usually request that the ESA letter is updated every year, so be sure to set yourself a reminder to renew it.
Know the Conditions for Which an ESA May Be Suggested
Mental health professionals only approve emotional support dogs if they believe they will be helpful. According to the DSM, there are a few different types of conditions where an emotional support animal can be beneficial as a treatment method. Some of these include:
Social anxiety disorder
Fear and phobias
Watch Out for Scams
Unfortunately, emotional support animal scams are all too common. Some websites promise to provide instant approval for an emotional support animal for a price. In the end, you wind up paying for documents that don’t mean anything. The only way to get approved for an ESA is by obtaining a letter from your mental health professional. If you come across a website that asks you to fill out an application or questionnaire, it’s likely a scam. There are also websites that claim to certify your pet. Emotional support registration is an excellent extra step to add to the process in order to further legitimize your emotional support pet. However, registration or certification does not mean anything without first getting approved by a doctor.
Don’t Lie to Your Therapist to Get an ESA
This goes without saying, but still, there are many people who take advantage of the emotional support pet system. ESAs are not traditional pets. By lying to obtain one, you are only hurting the real support pet owners who rely on their pets to make it through everyday life. Talk to a mental health professional to determine if getting an ESA is the right choice for you. If they conclude that it’s not, just adopt a traditional pet.
For more information about qualifying for an ESA or registering your pet, contact us at the National Service Animal Registry today.
First things first! According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), someone is considered disabled when he or she has “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.” If you qualify, then you may have a service dog to help you.
If you experience any of the following, you may qualify:
Limited physical mobility
What Exactly Is a Service Dog?
A “Service Dog” means any dog that is trained to perform tasks for an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The tasks performed must be directly related to the handler’s disability.
Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to:
Assisting a person who is blind or has poor vision with navigation and other tasks
Alerting a person who is deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds
Pulling a wheelchair
Assisting a person during a seizure
Alerting individuals to the presence of allergens
Retrieving items, such as medicine or the telephone
Providing physical support and assistance to individuals with mobility/balance issues
Helping persons with psychiatric issues by preventing or interrupting impulsive/destructive behaviors.
What Are Your Rights with a Service Dog?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), prohibits discrimination of disabled persons. That means you are entitled 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.
Qualify for No Pet (Including Limited Size/Species/Breed) Housing
The Fair Housing Amendments Act requires property managers and landlords to make a reasonable accommodation to permit a disabled person to have a service dog and not be charged a pet fee.
How Do You Make Your Dog Qualify as a Service Dog?
Since your dog must perform a task for you that you have great difficulty doing yourself, if your dog already knows how to do it and is obedience trained, you’re all set. Many people train or have someone help them their dog for the sometimes-simple tasks, necessary to qualify. Many dogs can perform tasks naturally, and it takes just a bit extra to add a task to what they already know to do. Register your pet as a service animal.
Is a Physician’s Prescription Necessary?
It isn’t necessary to have a letter from a doctor that states you are disabled, but if someone legally challenges you, proof of the disability will be necessary. When in public, you should be prepared to confirm you are disabled and provide credible verbal evidence of what your service dog is trained to do.
WHICH SERVICE "TYPE" SHOULD I SELECT?
Guide: This type is regarded as a "working service dog". Choose this type if you experience vision problems and your dog is trained to guide you in public settings.
Hearing Alert: This type is regarded as a "working service dog". Choose this type if your dog is trained to alert you to sounds that you are unable to hear or identify, such as alarm clocks, doorbells, telephones, automobile sounds, and other important sounds you have trouble identifying.
In Training: If your dog is being trained to become a service dog, but isn't quite ready to qualify for registration, "In Training" is the service type you should select. Although service dogs that are in training have no federally protected rights, many public places allow you access with your service dog in training.
Medical Assist: This type is regarded as a "working service dog". Choose this type if your dog is trained to assist you when experiencing a physical situation in which you can't perform a major life task for yourself (retrieve items, open doors, turn on lights, etc.).
Mobility: This type is regarded as a "working service dog". Choose this type if your dog is trained or able to provide stability and support for substantial balance or walking problems because of a physical disability.
PSA (Psychiatric Service Animal): This type is regarded as a "working service dog". Choose this type if your psychiatric or emotional disability substantially limits your ability to perform a major life task and your dog is trained to perform or help perform the task for you. A letter from a licensed therapist or psychiatrist that clearly indicates this is required.
Seizure Alert: This type is regarded as a "working service dog". Choose this type if your dog is trained or able to either predict a seizure or to get assistance from another person at the onset of a seizure.
SERVICE DOG VS. EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMAL
An Emotional Support Animal (ESA) is an animal that, by its very presence, mitigates the emotional or psychological symptoms associated with a handler's condition or disorder. The animal does NOT need to be trained to perform a disability-specific task. All domesticated animals (dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, hedgehogs, rodents, mini-pigs, etc.) may serve as an ESA. The only legal protections an Emotional Support Animal has are 1) to fly with their emotionally or psychologically disabled handler in the cabin of an aircraft and 2) to qualify for no-pet housing. No other public or private entity (motels, restaurants, stores, etc.) is required to allow your ESA to accompany you and in all other instances, your ESA has no more rights than a pet.
You'll also need to be prepared to present a letter to airlines and property managers from a licensed mental health professional stating that you are emotionally disabled and that he/she prescribes for you an emotional support animal.
If you do not have a letter of prescription and are unable to get one, we recommend that you consider Chilhowee Psychological Services. This agency offers legitimate psychometric testing, assessment, diagnosis, AND a letter of prescription from a licensed mental health professional. Click here to view their website.
A final note: Some animals are innately able to predict the onset of a physical or psychiatric event or crisis, effectively enabling the handler to prevent or minimize the event. This is an ability that usually cannot be trained - some animals are simply born with the ability to sense the onset of the event. These types of animals, although not otherwise task-trained, are considered "working" service animals.
Normally, emailed PDF copies are processed and sent the afternoon an order is shipped. It usually takes 2 - 4 business days to process and complete an order once we've received the image of your animal, although that can fluctuate, depending on the number of registrations we've received.
VIP Pass is an optional service that places your order ahead of all other orders in front of you (we usually have between 80 - 140 orders to process each weekday). So, your registration kit will ship either the day you order it (if the order is placed before 10:00 AM mountain time) or the very next business day GUARANTEED! Of course, you'll need to make sure you upload or email us an image of your animal immediately!
VIP Pass is not overnight or next day delivery. To have your order delivered "overnight", please contact our office to order and pay for Next Day Delivery. (1-866-737-3930 or firstname.lastname@example.org).