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How can you make your dog a service animal?

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
  • Anxiety
  • Autism
  • Blindness
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy
  • Diabetes
  • PTSD
  • Seizures

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.

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Tampa, FL: A Great Place to Visit with Your Service Dog

If you’re craving a warm place with sparkling waters to rest and relax in, Florida is the perfect vacation spot. Tampa has a great mix of everything when it comes down to a city. It is a busy metropolis with lots of things to do and see, a hub of business for those who want to work as well as play, and yet is also home to some of the best beaches and recreation the United States has.

It’s also a dog friendly place that welcomes service dogs and emotional support animals in many of its venues. Here are just a few of the places you can take your dog, even if he isn’t a working animal.

Hungry? Here’s where you can get a bite to eat

While service dogs are welcome in every restaurant, things get trickier when you have an emotional support animal. Most emotional support animals are treated like ordinary pets, with laws protecting only their right to housing. Luckily, there are lots of places you can being your dog and still enjoy a bite to eat. Here are two of them.

Sail Pavilion on the Riverwalk

Whether you boat up or walk up, there is space available for you at this river front location. The Sail Pavilion has great views, a full bar, and a selection of salads, sandwiches, and a few appetizers too. Your service dog won’t be neglected either. There’s a place for him to go potty, stainless steel dog bowls, and even a treat or two. Visit them at 333 S Franklin St, Tampa, FL, US, 33602.

Jasmine Thai

If you want authentic Thai food, Jasmine Thai welcomes your dog at their outdoor table, even if they are an emotional support animal and not a service dog. Enjoy Tom Yum, Egg Rolls, and Pad Thai at this wonderful restaurant.

You can visit at 13248 N Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa, FL, US, 33618.

Great place to stay

When you are traveling with a service dog, you can safely choose any hotel you want and know that they must accept your service dog. There are perks however, to choosing a dog friendly hotel. This includes knowing there will be green space available for your dog to do his business on, the rooms are likely to be on the lower floors for ease of getting your dog outside, and sometimes even treats and other goods for your dog.

If you’re traveling with an emotional support animal or a pet along with your service dog, it’s more important than ever to choose a dog friendly hotel. Westin Tampa Bay at 7627 Courtney Campbell Cswy, Tampa, FL 33607 is a very pet friendly hotel that provides your dog with amenities such as treats and bowls, and also has an on-site potty area. The pet rooms are all on lower floors, making this the perfect place to bring your pet.

Moving? Here’s a dog friendly apartment

If you need to bring along a pet who is not a service dog, or you want your emotional support animal to be comfortable in the apartments you choose, the Westwood Reserve is an amenity packed hotel that feels as if it is designed for dogs. It has its own private dog park, “The Bark Park” for your dogs to relax in, as well as lots of ordinary green space and pet friendly apartments.

Your service dog will feel right at home in this apartment, and you’ll love the easy beach access and other amenities.

Take your pet to the dog park

Dogs love to run and play together. If you have a service dog craving a little off duty fun, or you want to better socialize your emotional support animal, taking them to a dog park is an excellent way to give them the exercise and play time they need.

Tampa has many dog parks available, a local favorite being the West Park Dog Park at 6402 N Occident St, Tampa, FL, US, 33614. The park has water fountains, shelters, picnic tables, and even a dog wash in case he gets a little too muddy. It’s a wonderful place to take your service dog for a little fun, and visitors report the place is usually clean, a big plus.

Visit a trendy dog boutique

Your service dog or emotional support animal needs a number of items to maintain his level of comfort as he works for you. Whether you’re searching for high quality food or perhaps a new chew toy, chances are you’ll need a thing or two for your dog while he is out and about with you.

Wag Natural Pet Market at 304 E Davis Blvd, Tampa, FL 33606 has everything you need for your dog, plus grooming and other services. If you’re in Tampa and need to resupply, this is a great store to visit.

Take your service dog for a hike

One of the most popular hiking trails in Tampa is the Flatwood loop trail. This 7-mile-long loop located at 14302 Morris Bridge Rd. Thonotosassa, FL 33592 is paved, and leashed pets are permitted on the loop. This trail is paved and has restrooms and other amenities. There is a $2 fee for entering, but as many as 8 people can be in each vehicle without having to pay more.

Visit a Saturday Market with your dog

The Ybor City Saturday market, located at 1901 19th Street Tampa, FL 33605 is a unique market filled with handmade goods, fresh produce, and vendors who love to form long term relationships with their customers. They also welcome pets, which is rare in a farmer’s market.

They have everything from jewelry to farm fresh eggs and is a perfect way to spend the day with your beloved friend.

Tampa is the perfect place for service dogs, and a wonderful way to relax and enjoy the beach. No matter why you are headed to Tampa, there’s no doubt you will love visiting with your dog.

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Colorado Springs, CO: A Great Place to Visit with Your Dog

If you love spending time in the great outdoors with your service dog) or emotional support animal (ESA), you’ll love Colorado Springs, CO. Colorado Springs is known for its rugged, outdoor adventures and the dozens of activities available for both you and your ESA.

If you’re planning a visit or even a move to Colorado Springs, here are the top dog-friendly locations you need to know about.

Great places to eat

If you have a service dog, you probably don’t have a problem getting into a restaurant with your assistant. An ESA however is a different story. Emotional support animals (ESA) are not exempt from rules about animals in restaurants, and the only legal protection they get involves housing. Luckily if you have an emotional support animal (ESA) instead of a service dog, there are still plenty of dog-friendly eateries you can take your animal to.

Pub Dog Colorado

This pub is unique because not only can you dine with your dog, but you can even take your ESA or pet indoors with you. Most dog friendly restaurants prefer animals that are not service dogs to sit on an outdoor patio, and only service dogs are permitted inside. This is great news for dog lovers of all kinds and makes Pub Dog Colorado our top choice. You can check them out at 2207 Bott Ave.

Pizzeria Rustica

If you like eating sustainably, the Pizzeria Rustica is the right choice for you. This restaurant welcomes dogs on its outdoor patio. Pizzeria Rustica is a certified Green restaurant and has top tier service. If you love pizza and want to bring your ESA along for the ride, this is a great place to get quality pizza. You can find them at 2527 W Colorado Ave when you’re ready to visit.

Take your pet to a museum

Although your service dog is allowed in many places, an ESA is usually very restricted. If you want to experience a museum with your ESA, there actually is one in Colorado Springs that allows your dog to visit every nook and corner.

The Manitou Cliff Dwellings Museum is a dog friendly outdoor museum, that allows you to see the homes carved into the cliffs by civilizations long ago. These dwellings are over 800 years old, located at the foot of Pike’s Peak. You can visit with your furry friend at 10 Cliff Dwellings Rd, US Hwy 24 West, Manitou Springs.

Moving to Colorado Springs?

If you’re planning to make your stay in Colorado Springs a permanent one, you may be hoping to find dog friendly apartments for your stay. Service dogs and ESA cannot be refused as far as housing is concerned, but that doesn’t mean the apartments you are in will be comfortable for your service dog or ESA.

Pet friendly apartments usually have green spaces where you can take your dog potty, and sometimes even amenities specifically for your dog. Ridgeview Place, for example, has its own “Bark Park” specifically for their dog loving renters, making it one of the most pet friendly apartments available. You can visit yourself at 3310 Knoll Lane in Colorado Springs.

Bond with your dog at Bear Creek Dog Park

This huge 10-acre dog park has a number of amenities that make it stand out from other dog parks. Apart from the usual fenced in play areas, benches, and trails to walk on, Bear Creek also has an agility course for you and your dog to practice on. Located at S 21st St, this is a fun place for dogs of all shapes and sizes.

Enjoy Palmer Park with your service dog

One of the best parts about visiting or living in Colorado Springs is the huge number of outdoor activities readily at your fingertips. If you’d like to visit a beautiful park filled with excellent hiking opportunities, you’ll want to make Palmer Park a regular part of your stay.

Palmer Park is a 296-acre park that has over 25 miles of hiking trails on it, as well as a scenic overlook, a dog park, sports areas, and more. Elevation Outdoors Magazine named it Best Urban Park in its Best of Rockies 2017 list. You can visit it at 3650 Maizeland Rd. The hiking trails are leash free, so be aware of other animals approaching while visiting with your service dog.

Take a hike at The Garden of the Gods

If you’re going to hike, what better place to do so than Colorado Spring’s very own National Natural Landmark. The Garden of the Gods is a huge park full of hiking trails, rock climbing, and breathtaking views.

There is a location you can let your dog off leash, but otherwise all dogs must be kept on a six foot leash. If you’re worried about untrained dogs mobbing your service dog as you try to enjoy a hike, this is one of the best hiking locations you can try. See for yourself at 1805 N. 30th St.

Top Tier Veterinary Care

If you have a service dog to help you in your daily life, keeping him in the best possible condition is also essential to your quality of life. Even if you’re just planning to stay for a few days, knowing where a great veterinary hospital is should something happen to your service dog during your stay is of the utmost importance.

Animal Hospital of Colorado Springs

Animal Hospital of Colorado Springs is accredited with the American Animal Hospital Association, and the vets that work there have a number of important certificates that go above and beyond basic veterinary training. If you need veterinary treatment for your service dog, they can help you whether it is a complex case or a simple vaccine. You can take your dog to 1015 Cheyenne Meadows Road if you need care.

Get resupplied at Bon Pet Supply

If you need toys, treats, or food for your service dog, you probably want the best quality to keep him healthy and happy. Bon Pet Supply carries a wide range of products, including many different brands of high-quality dog food, and everything else your service dog might need or want. Pets of all types are welcome in the store. They are also open 7 days a week, so you won’t have to worry about running out of food on a Sunday and having to wait. You can visit them at 2312 N Wahsatch Ave.

Colorado Springs has a wealth of dog friendly opportunities. If you’re planning to visit there or even move and want to see what fun things you can do with your beloved canine, these are our top picks.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Service Dogs

Service dogs can represent the path to increased mobility and enhanced quality of life for those who live with a disability. Service dogs are animals who are specially trained to perform tasks that make everyday life easier for those who deal with disabilities. While they can be of great benefit to those who require them, owning a service dog is not as simple as picking out a pet. Service dog ownership and the rights of those who own them are part of a complex environment, which can be confusing to first-time service dog owners.

If you’ve recently elected to acquire a service dog to help you live with your disability, you may have many questions about how you should proceed. For example, you may wonder if it’s necessary to enroll your pet with a service dog registry. Likewise, you may want to know whether service dog vests are required to protect your rights and gain you and your dog equal access to public accommodations. While in some others, service dog registration may be beneficial in helping to navigate the legal environment surrounding service animals, in other locations that may not be the case. Therefore, it’s important that you absorb some basic information about service dogs, your rights as a service dog owner, and how you can navigate the regulations surrounding them. Keep reading to learn about service dog ownership.

Service Dogs Aren’t Emotional Support or Therapy Animals

While the labels are sometimes erroneously used interchangeably, service dogs are distinct from emotional support animals and pet therapy animals. Service dogs are individually trained to perform tasks for individuals that pertain to their specific disabilities. They and their owners are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which means that the dog and owner are afforded accessibility in housing, pet-free establishments, mass transit, educational institutions, and the workplace. ESA dogs and therapy dogs are not specially trained to perform specific tasks related to their owners’ disabilities. They are not protected to the same extent by the ADA, and accessibility is more limited as a result.

Registration Isn’t Required, but It’s Beneficial

The ADA doesn’t require that a service animal be registered by any registering body. The rights afforded to service dogs and their owners are not contingent upon registration so long as the owner meets the definition of a person living with a disability. The ADA also requires that the dog is specially trained to perform a specific task that mitigates the disability, is fully housebroken, and is under full control of the owner at all times. However, registration and accompanying documentation can help service dog owners navigate the world with greater ease. The presence of registration documentation, service animal cards, and service animal vests can help communicate your service animal’s purpose and reduce resistance to accommodation.

Public Accommodation Rights Are Protected

The ADA specifies that there are several areas in which the rights of owners of service dogs must be respected. Those include housing, public accommodations, air travel, work, and education. Under the ADA, an employee of an organization or institution can only ask two questions of service dog owners. As a service dog owner, you can be asked whether your dog is required because of a disability and what work task the dog is trained to perform. If you can answer those two questions in the affirmative, admittance must be allowed.

If you are entering the complex world of service dogs, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information that is available. However, by learning the basics, you can more easily navigate life with a service dog and reap the full benefits that they offer.

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Best Emotional Support Dogs for Anxiety

As we learn more about mental and emotional disorders, more and more people are being diagnosed with problems like depression and anxiety daily. We live in a highly demanding, highly stressful world, and it’s little wonder that it seems just about everyone deals with some level of anxiety as a result. If you suffer from anxiety that significantly impacts your day-to-day life, you might consider getting an emotional support animal to help. These are the breeds we recommend for helping you cope with anxiety. If you have a support dog, remember to get an emotional dog support vest to clearly mark them as more than just a pet.

Spoiler: There’s No Wrong Answer

First, let’s get straight to the most important thing about choosing a dog for your anxiety. There’s no single dog breed that is better than others for this task. Unlike disability service dogs, which are typically one of only a handful of different breeds, any breed of dog can be an emotional support animal. In fact, the best breed for you will depend on your unique circumstances, needs, and even the cause of your anxiety. Now that we’ve given away the ending let’s get into more details about choosing the right dog for your anxiety.

Temperament Matters Most

If you don’t already have a dog, the first thing you need to consider is the general temperament of the breed you’re considering for your ESA. This is a dog that you need to be able to rely on for love and support when you’re feeling at your worst. This means you want a breed that is generally calm, friendly, affectionate, and loyal. While any dog can have these traits, regardless of their breed, some breeds do tend to have calmer and more affectionate temperaments than others, so do a little research before selecting a dog as your ESA.

Additionally, consider the energy levels of this breed. Is this a dog breed that tends to bark a lot or constantly want to run and play? Then it may not be the best breed for you. After all, you don’t want your dog to be wriggling away from you the moment you need a soothing cuddle.

The Right Size

This is one of those factors that will vary from one person to another. Small dogs work well as ESAs because they’re much easier to bring with you. They can fit into a bag or purse or easily be carried with you when traveling. This is much more difficult to do with a large dog.

However, if your anxiety is best soothed by full-body contact and calming pressure (you may currently rely on a weighted blanket to help you relax), then a large dog might work better for your needs. They can lay down with you and give you that reassuring presence your anxiety needs.

The Root of Your Anxiety

You should also work with a mental health professional to determine the root of your anxiety, as well as any associated triggers, as these may factor into the breed you select as your ESA. For example, is your anxiety connected to concerns for your personal safety? Then you might be more soothed by a large breed that you feel can protect you from potential threats. Is your anxiety often triggered by loud or repetitive sounds? Then you’ll want a dog breed that tends to be quieter; these include both large and small breeds, from pugs to Saint Bernards, so you can feed a dog that is quiet and fits your preferences for size as well.

Choosing a dog as an ESA can be much more complicated than simply picking a pet. But once you find the best support animal, you’ll discover just how much of a difference they can make in your life. And don’t forget to purchase an emotional support dog kit so that your canine partner has everything they need to perform their job as your ESA.

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Airlines Now Allow Only Dogs and Cats Onboard as Your Emotional Support Animal: Here’s Why

The last few years, you may have noticed a rise in social media stories featuring strange animals on planes—Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are full of images of passengers flying with their special emotional support animal (ESA). It is certainly novel to see monkeys, ducks, horses and pigs 35,000 feet above the ground—and awfully cute too, which accounts for the viral speed at which these stories travel. You’ve probably seen a few ESA’s and service dogs at the airport, yourself; many with a special service dog vest.

People flying with all manner of emotional support animal has simply surged in recent years—though it’s still far more common to see an emotional support cat or emotional support dog. On American Airlines alone, the number of emotional support animals on their flights rose by 48% in one year alone from 2016 to 2017. That’s a massive increase. In total they accommodated 155,790 emotional support animals.

It makes sense, since the more these stories go viral and the more people see images of animals flying, the more likely they are to want to fly with their animal too.

Unfortunately (or not, depending on your point of view), those days are over. Airlines are actively seeking to ban passengers from bringing just any emotional support animal aboard planes. They feel that people are taking advantage of the current laws which let an emotional support animal fly for free—a great deal considering the alternative: checking a pet can be rather costly—up to 100 dollars or more each way.

Plus, an emotional support dog or other animal is allowed more freedom on the plane—they can sit on your lap and don’t have to be kept in a cage at your feet, as is required for a checked pet. Of course, that also limits the size of your animal—many an emotional support dog would simply be too big to fit at your feet and would need to be checked below the plane. That is, understandably, not something many people feel comfortable with.

People like flying with their emotional support animal because having their presence can significantly reduce anxiety during a stressful travel and flying experience. But now, if you want to fly with an emotional support animal, you’re better off with an emotional support cat or an emotional support dog.

In August 2019 the Department of Transportation ruled that service animals could include cats, dogs and miniature horses, while emotional support animals would be allowed at the discretion of the airline. And these laws may soon be tightening up even more to include only a trained emotional support dog. (Service animals, as those mentioned above, will still be allowed with proper documentation).

This isn’t entirely new—many individual airlines had already cracked down on what type of animal could be allowed onboard as an emotional support animal. Rodents, for example, are never allowed on board the plane, emotional support animal or not, as was evidenced by the frustrating story of the woman who showed up with an emotional support squirrel and had to be removed from the plane by police officers, or, more tragically, the girl who flushed her emotional support hamster down the toilet after being denied entry with him.

While generally an emotional support dog or emotional support cat is acceptable, in some cases, even the breed of dog permitted as an emotional support dog can determine eligibility. Delta, for example, no longer allows pit bulls, after multiple attendants and passengers were attacked.

Indeed, the Association of Flight Attendants, a flight attendant union with over 50,000 members, has been a strong force in the fight to change the law, as numerous flight attendants have been injured by untrained emotional support dogs. They say that the excessive number of animals allowed on planes threatens “the safety and health of passengers and crews in recent years while this practice skyrocketed.”

Besides animal attacks, an emotional support animal can also put passengers with allergies and asthma at risk. Also, if an animal relieves itself on the plane, an event which is not unheard of, the airplane’s high level of sanitation requirements are at risk—not to mention the extra effort flight attendants must do to clean and sanitize, sometimes delaying the subsequent flight. Furthermore, in an emergency an untrained emotional support animal can pose an impediment to the safety and evacuation of passengers.

Critics of the decision say that airlines oppose animals because they’ve reduced space in cabins so drastically that there is no room for an emotional support animal (and hardly room for passengers!). They voice concern over the people who will no longer be able to fly with their emotional support animal.

So What’s The Current State of Affairs?

While we’re still waiting to hear the final verdict on whether any emotional support animal will be allowed in the main cabin, those with a service animal—different from an emotional support animal in that these animals have been trained to help disabled owners perform certain tasks—will still be able to fly with their helper. An emotional support cat or emotional support dog would still be allowed to travel in cargo areas.

Currently, an emotional support dog or emotional support cat are generally more acceptable than other animals, however it depends on a case by case basis and you’ll need to prove the animal is trained—and won’t attack anyone! Until an official law is passed, every airline is handling the emotional support animal situation a little differently.

For example, the American Airlines website states:

Cats and dogs (trained miniature horse may be permitted as a service animal) are generally acceptable as service and support animals; any other animals must comply with the US Department of Transportation requirements for health and safety including documentation of the animal’s up to date vaccination records and may not cause significant cabin disruption

In the event that your emotional support animal is too big or heavy to safely be accommodated, American Airlines suggests these alternatives:

  • Buy a ticket for the animal
  • Rebook on a flight with more open seats
  • Transport the animal as a checked pet

As the last option indicates, even if the days of flying your emotional support animal for free and in the cabin are over, you will still have the option of checking your emotional support dog, emotional support cat or other animal in through other available, albeit more conventional, means.

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What Is a Service Dog Exactly?

When you think of the term “service dog,” an image likely comes into your head of a dog in a red vest and harness. They’re likely a large breed of dog, and they may be assisting someone with an obvious disability, such as someone who is blind or in a wheelchair. While this image is not incorrect, it is a very limited view of what makes a service dog a service dog. Keep reading to learn what a service dog really is and what it takes for a dog to qualify for this title.

The Legal Definition

Legally speaking, a service dog is a dog that has received specialized service dog training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities. The dog is essential in helping the disabled individual to perform daily tasks without a human caregiver. Of course, the dog can also be a much-loved member of the family; however, first and foremost, they are there to get a job done and have received the necessary training to do so.

This means that, despite their importance to many people with mental and emotional disabilities, emotional support animals are not considered service dogs. This is because ESAs do not receive specialized training or perform set tasks that assist their owner; instead, they are a pet that provides a soothing presence to help people cope with symptoms related to anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other conditions.

Types of Service Dogs

It’s important to remember that not all disabilities are visible, and an individual may still have a condition that requires the assistance of a certified, registered service dog. Here are some of the more common types of service dogs that people use:

  • Guide dogs for the blind or visually impaired
  • Hearing dogs for the deaf or hearing impaired
  • Mobility assistance dogs for those in wheelchairs or with other mobility limitations
  • Seizure response dogs to help protect and assist individuals with seizure disorders
  • Diabetes assistance dogs to alert owners of low or high blood sugar levels

Additionally, certain dogs may be trained to assist those with mental health or psychiatric issues. However, as noted above, these dogs are given task-specific training to assist with these disorders, rather than simply providing comfort. These tasks may involve intervening if the owner displays violent behavior, alerting parents to an autistic child in a dangerous situation, retrieving medication during a panic attack, and so on.

Guide dog is helping a blind man in the city

Rights of a Service Dog

Service dogs that have been trained and recognized by the service dog registry have certain rights that other dogs don’t. They can enter stores, restaurants, and other public areas where pets are not typically allowed. They can live with their owners in pet-free housing without being required to pay a pet fee. They can travel on planes and other public transportation with their owners. Business owners and workers are not legally allowed to question the handler regarding their disability but can ask if the dog is a service animal, as well as what task the dog has been trained to do.

If you would like to learn more about service dogs, emotional support animals, and the rights that extend to each of these, click the link above or contact us today.

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Introducing a New Dog to the Resident Cat

So, you’re bringing your sweet, new dog home to the den and you’ve already read up on how to welcome him into the pack with ease and grace in Part 1 of this series. But what if your unique pack includes a member of the feline variety? Introducing your new ESA to an established cat is another thing altogether and can be fraught with tremendous challenges if the two of them aren’t disposed to be friendly with each other. In ancient times, cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this.

Ideally, you want your special pack to be tight-knit and well-bonded, for the obvious fact that it’s simply a better way to live. Luckily, there are certain strategies you may employ to help your beloved cat and your new service dog/emotional support dog (or just dog) adjust to each other, leading to a happy family all around.

Can Dogs and Cats Really Be Friends?

Long considered quintessential enemies, cats and dogs are often comically portrayed as each other’s arch nemesis. Perhaps it is this ingrained meme that makes the reality of dog-cat friendships so insanely cute. Indeed, it is not uncommon for these animals to be quite affectionate with each other: nuzzling, playing and sleeping in a cuddle puddle.

It’s wonderful to witness the bond that can develop between a hound and a feline, and a joy to see what pleasure and companionship they bring to their relationship. There can also be an extra benefit: Your emotional support dog/service dog and your Purrs-a-Lot will entertain each other, so you don’t have to be always on duty!

Even if your cat and new dog don’t become the best of friends (you can’t force personality and chemistry, even with animals), they can at least be taught to respect one another and live in a general state of peace. There is nothing more tiresome than having to break up frequent fights or, even worse, being forever on the alert for the safety of your cat.

While it’s true they can be the best of friends, it’s also true that they still need time to get acquainted initially. In the beginning, some tension is inevitable. Naturally territorial, a resident cat will likely feel threatened by the arrival of any new animal, particularly that curious, slobbering oaf of a dog, who is likely insensitive about his invasion of Kitty’s personal space. There is bound to be some hissing and general unpleasantness.

The unpleasantness will, of course, be compounded if there is an actual physical threat to the safety of the cat from the emotional support dog. In some cases, the dog is the one who is threatened!

It is therefore advisable to facilitate an introduction that allows for a minimum of stress and predisposes the animals to recognize the other as family, thus setting the stage for a healthy relationship between the sweet beasts of your heart and home.

Match-Maker

Some cats and emotional support dogs/service dogs are more naturally disposed to be friends and need very little in the way of assistance to move through the tense acquaintance phase, becoming quick friends on their own. Others may not reach that place so quickly – if at all. It’s all a matter of personality, age, prior experience, temperament, and inclination. All factors in the relationship equation.

Take prior experience, for example: Has the dog or cat ever been emotionally close to an animal of the other species before, or is this their first opportunity? A cat that is familiar with dogs will likely have an easier time adjusting to this new dog, while a cat with no prior experience will take longer to “break in.”

Age is another factor. An old cat may be cranky and less inclined to become buddies with a young and energetic emotional support dog. The cat may even attack the hound, or at best, ignore it, with an occasional hiss and swipe to put the dog in its place. However, an old cat and an old service dog may match one another’s energy perfectly.

The main thing is to be sensitive to both animals’ personalities and needs. Consider how their energy levels match-a hyper cat and a rowdy dog may have great fun expending energy together, while a shy, quiet cat, may be overwhelmed by a boisterous emotional support dog.

While it’s normal to have tension, along with some growling, hissing, and over-excitement in the beginning, is this something that seems likely to go away in time, and with training? You’ll have to be the judge.

Step by Step:

As always, the key to easing a service dog, emotional support dog, or any animal through a transition is to do it slowly and one step at a time. Here’s a list of the steps to help introduce a new dog to the resident kitty. Use all the steps, or pick and choose, based on the personality of the animals involved, and how you observe them respond to each other.

1. Create Individual Clearly Defined Spaces.

It’s a good idea to begin by making sure both your service dog/emotional support dog and your cat have their own, separate safe zones. If possible, keep the cat’s space, along with all the kitty stuff (kitty litter, toys, food, and water, etc.) remains in its current location, unless the new dog will necessitate a change. Any space changes should be performed before your dog arrives. This enables your cat to get used to things. You can, of course, block off a portion of the house where the dog will initially be restricted to. The important thing is to limit and protect the cat’s private space.

Allowing the dog to sniff and investigate the cat’s space while the cat is in another room or outside (and vice versa) will remove some of the dog’s drive to explore. Let’s face it: The cat’s gonna do what the cat wants to do – when the cat wants to do it!

2. Smell Exchange

If possible, it’s ideal to introduce the animals to one another’s smell, even before bringing your new support dog home. Both cats and dogs have incredible noses with acute senses of smell and if given the chance to become familiar with a particular odor, the less offensive and threatening it will be for the cat, or exciting and stimulating, for the service dog. This, in turn, will create a greater openness to knowing one another upon initial meeting.

You can let them get a whiff of each other by “swapping smells,” or giving each animal a towel or old t-shirt to sleep with and then switching the now odor-drenched textiles so doggie is sleeping with meow-meow’s scent and vice versa.

If it is not possible to introduce smells ahead of the move-in date, no worries. You can implement the same technique once your new dog is in the house, but still segregated in a different room or area than the cat. You can even just swap their bedding.

3. Opposite Side of the Door Feedings

An old trick: feed the kitty and your emotional support dog at the same time, but on opposite sides of a door. They will be able to smell, hear and sense one another, but without the threat or overstimulation of actually seeing one another. Additionally, the food will help them come to associate the smell and sound of the other with something wonderful and delicious!

4. Observe Each Other Through a Gate

Now it’s time to “lift the curtain”, so to speak. Let your dog see the cat through a pet gate. You may want to keep the dog on a leash during this phase, even though they are separated, for training purposes.

Allow them to observe each other, and as they do, observe your emotional support dog. How is he behaving? If he remains obsessively fixated on the cat, lunging, and barking, digging at the barrier and staring at her intently for more than a few days, you may have an aggressive dog on your hands. If so, that require a few other precautions (see below).

Before moving on to the next step, it’s a good idea to see if the emotional support dog and cat are relatively at ease in each other’s presence. They should be able to ignore the other and show relaxed body language.

5. Leashed Face-to-Face

Now that the animals have become pretty familiar with one another and are showing more comfort, remove the gate. Let both animals inhabit the same space, but keep your new dog on a leash, to be safe. Again, stay at this step until both animals seem calm around one another.

6. Grand Finale! Off-leash Hang Time

It’s finally time to let the animals be in a room together with total freedom. They should be adjusted to one another at this point, but you’ll still want to chaperone the first few off-leash meetings or until you feel comfortable. Just use your best judgment and observe body language. You should notice any agitation or aggression.

If the cat is an outdoor cat, it’s a good idea to test the animals together outside as well. Sometimes a different environment, like being out of doors, can alter the behavior of an dog who has become used to the rules inside the house, but isn’t so sure what the rules are in the “wild” where a cat might otherwise be fair game. Better to chaperone out there too, and make sure all is well between the animal kingdoms before letting them run loose together.

Aggressive Dogs

Hopefully, your emotional support/service dog will easily habituate to the cat. Some dogs, however, have very strong predatory instincts, and if this is the case with your pooch, you’ll have to do some extra training to facilitate a respectful relationship between your pooch and your kitty.

Strong predator instinct can be recognized by specific body language and behavior: if the dog displays excessive growling, barking, or maintains a fixed stare at the cat, he is treating her more like prey, than as a member of his family. He might repeatedly jump at the cat or be generally obsessed with this other critter.

Specific training techniques to guide an aggressive dog include refocusing their attention. If your dog is fixated on the cat, pull his attention away by saying his name and getting him to look at you. Once he does look at you, offer him a treat. Repeat until the dog learns there is more reward in not being overly obsessed with the cat.

If you are having difficulty finding success, and your emotional support dog is absorbed by your cat in an aggressive way, it may be time to seek professional help.

Occasionally, a dog just is not suited to a cat (or vice versa). If you’ve given it time and patience, but the dog continues to act aggressively to the cat, it may not be a good fit. You’ll need to decide what your options are at that point.

Kittens and Your New Dog

Kittens are especially vulnerable, and even an emotional support dog who has previous cat buddies and is decidedly not a cat chaser, may see a sweet little kitten as a toy. The dog may play too rough and wind up injuring the kitten. If the kitten is a bit older and quite playful, its erratic moves can encourage a dog to play too roughly.

To avoid this sort of trauma, it’s a good idea to chaperone the meetings between these creatures. A kitten will not be territorial and may not even have developed an appropriate fear of dogs. So, in this case, it is really important to protect the little thing.

When you aren’t on patrol but want the animals to be around one another, you can keep the kitten in a big crate, so the emotional support dog can see, but not touch.

Conclusion

Hopefully, by now your cat and dog are well on the way to becoming friends. Just remember to make sure you give both your dog and your cat a lot of love and attention. It can be easy in the excitement of having a new emotional support dog to give less attention to your resident feline. Cats need a lot of reassurance, however, and your cat will benefit to understand he/she still has an important place in your heart. Giving her plenty of attention will help minimize jealousy and ill will toward her new dog friend.

Also, the more the emotional support dog sees you being affectionate with the cat, the more he’ll understand the cat is a special friend – and vice versa. Let them witness the other as family through your behavior.

And, as always, exercise patience. Sometimes, it takes a little time for a new dog and cat to become totally at ease in each other’s’ company, let alone build a familial relationship. Give it time; it will be worth it! Before long, you’ll be enjoying being at the head of a cohesive, multi-species pack!

Good Luck!

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Feeding Your Service Dog Less May Lead to a Longer Life

Most people love their pets, but for the disabled, a service dog isn’t just a beloved friend. They are an essential part of their lives, and vital to their independence. Service dogs are employed around the world to help guide the blind, alert deaf to important sounds such as doorbells or phones, and to alert to a wide range of medical conditions.

It can cost between $20,000-$60,000 to properly train a service dog and replacing them when they become too old to work or pass away is both heart wrenching and difficult. Both the handler and the dog must learn to work with a new person, and there’s no guarantee that the match will work.

Between the expense and the level of effort it takes to transfer to a new service dog, it makes sense to keep a beloved friend in service for as long as possible. The good news is, keeping your dog in good weight can not only extend his life, but make those years higher quality as well.

Weight gain is a growing problem for dogs

In the United States alone, 54% of dogs are overweight or obese. A 2014 study conducted by Banfield pet hospitals found that overweight dogs live shorter lives than those who are a healthy weight. The difference in lifespan came to about 2 ? years.

Overweight dogs are also prone to a number of chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, and even ACL tears. These problems may shorten your pets lifespan, but critically for service dogs, could bring an end to their career.

If they ever have to undergo surgery, they are also more at risk because overweight dogs have to work harder to breathe and may take longer to wake up after anesthesia.

Feeding less is the best choice

Weight loss happens when a dog takes in fewer calories than it burns. While you can increase exercise in the hopes of helping your pet burn calories, the reality is your service dog probably already gets plenty of exercise every day as he performs the tasks required of him.

The saying goes, “You can’t outrun a bad diet,” and is meant as advice for runners who hope to lose weight through adopting running as an exercise routine. The same is true for dogs. Although exercise can help burn more calories, your service dog’s diet is where we truly need to look in order to help him lose weight. There are several methods you can use to help him lose weight, including:

Stop free feeding

Some people choose to keep unlimited amounts of food available for their dog. The theory being that a full dog won’t beg, and that they won’t overeat if they know there is always more food available. Dogs are opportunistic feeders however, and tend to eat more than they should, especially if it is readily available to snack on at a moment’s notice.

Instead, carefully read the instructions on your dog’s food, and follow the guidelines. These guidelines are different from brand to brand, and even between lines of the same brand.

Follow package instructions carefully

Different brands of dog food have different calorie amounts. A cup of food for one brand could have a vastly different calorie count than a cup from a different brand, even though it is the same volume. Read the package carefully, and double check that you are following instructions properly. Some people read the daily intake suggestion and think 1 cup per meal for example, and it is actually 1 cup per day.

If you want to feed multiple meals per day, split the daily value total into portions, rather than accidentally doubling or tripling the amount of dog food your pet receives with multiple meals of his daily value.

Get a body scale done on your dog

Most vets are happy to perform a body scale assessment on your dog, so that you know how far you need to go. They will give you a number between 1-5, with 1 being completely emaciated and 5 being morbidly obese. A body scale can let you know your dog’s condition and help guide you towards a healthy weight.

Include treats in overall feed amount

Many people forget that the treats and chews they offer their pet throughout the day also have calories. When feeding your service dogs his main meal, it’s important to subtract the amount of treats you have given from the total amount of kibble for the day.

Treats can add up to a surprising number of calories if you give them frequently, so if you love giving your service dog a few extras when it is off duty, this may be the culprit to his expanding waistline.

Feed less

If you have been carefully measuring your dog’s food, either by weighing it or by following the package instructions and your dog has not lost weight, it’s time to cut the amount of dog food. The measurements on the back of your dog food are simply guidelines, and they don’t always accurately reflect your dog’s needs.

Age, level of activity, and chronic diseases such as thyroid problems can slow down your dogs metabolism and make him need less than the recommended amount. If you see no change in his weight after reducing his food, it’s time to cut how much is getting in his bowl.

How much to cut your dog’s food

If you always measure your dog’s food and follow the guidelines on the back of the bag, you may be wondering where to go from there. Your dog food may suggest different measurements depending on energy requirements, but a good rule of thumb is to reduce the food you are giving your dog by 5% and then wait a few weeks to see how effective that is.

The delay between food reductions gives your service dog a chance to get used to the smaller amount of food, as well as time to lose weight. If he hasn’t lost enough weight after a few weeks, you can reduce the amount again. If you find yourself feeding less than 75% of the daily recommended amount, it may be time to switch to a lower calorie food instead.

Feeding your dog the correct amount of dog food can be tricky. The weight ranges on dog food labels can be huge and make it hard for you to guess what the appropriate amount is. Many labels also fail to meet standard calculations.

Your service dog will probably need to be on a diet for somewhere between 6-8 months in order to achieve a healthy body weight. Even just five pounds could take over a month as your dog gradually loses the weight.

Even if your dog has a lot of weight to lose, it’s important not to rush your dog’s weight loss. Rapid weight loss can have problems of its own, such as nutritional deficiencies, or even behavior problems such as digging through your trash.

It’s healthiest for your pet to lose the weight gradually, so that he has time to adjust to the reduced amount of food before making more adjustments. Your vet can be a very helpful guide here, letting you know if weight loss is too much or not enough.

Even if the weight loss is gradual, you will notice a difference in how your service dog is working as the weight comes off and he enjoys more energy and better health. Weight loss is a long term project, and is the same for people as it is for dogs. The best chance for your pet to not only lose the weight but also keep it off is a slow approach.

Why less food is so important

Most service dogs are larger dogs, such as labs and shepherds. On a medium to large sized dogs, a few extra pounds aren’t as noticeable compared to a couple of extra pounds on a tiny yorkie. Yet even just a few extra pounds on your service dog can not only decrease his lifespan, but also his quality of life. According to VCA dog hospitals, just 5 pounds of extra weight can be enough to put your dog at risk for chronic health conditions. The smaller your dog is, the more those extra pounds can stress the body.

Your service dog is a partner that gives you independence. Making sure he is healthy enough to continue to help you for as long as possible is a sensible step and is as easy as pouring a few less kibble into his bowl. He might not love a diet, but he will love the good health he can enjoy well into his twilight years as your partner in life.

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Fruits Your Dog Should and Shouldn’t Eat

Many of us enjoy sharing food with our dogs, even when they are a service dog. They are so easy to feed, always available with an appetite and an interest in whatever foods you’re preparing or eating. It can be easy to assume that if your dog wants to eat something, it can’t be so bad, right? It’s not uncommon, then, to toss your service dog an apple slice or a bit of banana. But are fruits really so good for our wagging tailed friends?

As usual, the answer is a bit more nuanced than a simple Yes or No. In general, most fruits are ok for dogs to eat in small and once-in-a-while portions. In this article we’ll look into what role (if any) fruits play in a service dog’s diet, how to safely feed your pup fruits (in a way that will cause the least collateral damage), and which fruits are actually toxic to a dog’s health. We’ll also look at some specific fruits and find out what their nutrient offerings are, so you may intelligently decide what to put in your service dog’s diet.

Are Fruits Necessary for My Service Dog’s Diet?

Fruits are not necessary for canine health. Fruits are essentially nature’s candy, filled with delicious, oh-so-sweet sugar (in the form of fructose). However, your service dog does not need much sugar. In fact, they get all the sugar they need to survive from carbohydrates (which break down into sugars). Too much sugar in your service dog’s diet is detrimental to his health.

On the other hand, when we look at a dog’s diet in the wild, we see that they do actually eat some fruit. The key here is that they eat a little. Suckers for strong smells, scavenging dogs are especially attracted to rotting fruits and vegetables that have begun to ferment. Additionally, they will eat berries directly off of a bush.

So, are fruits necessary for your service dog’s diet? No. But they do eat a small amount of fruits in the wild and they are can receive some benefit from eating fruits, on a limited basis.

Let’s look at some of the benefits below:

What is the Benefit of Feeding My Service Dog Fruit?

It’s important not to confuse what makes a healthy human diet with what makes a healthy dog diet. We are very different species with different nutritional needs. While humans can do well to include fruit in their diets on a regular basis, it’s not the same for canines.

So, what good, if any, does fruit provide to dogs? Well, fruit offers dogs all the same benefits it offers to humans: vitamins, minerals, hydration, fiber and antioxidants. Really, your service dog should be getting all their nutrients from their high protein dog food, but their bodies certainly can and do process fruits to receive this nutrition as well.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of fruit for dogs is the high antioxidants content. Antioxidants fight free radicals, preventing and preparing oxidative stress, which ultimately protects against cancer and other ailments.

So, will your service dog benefit from fruit? Well, they can. However, they will receive the most benefit if their fruit intake is kept to a minimum. Let’s look at why this is the case.

What are the Negative Side of Fruits?

Fruits are often hailed among humans as being uber healthy, since they are so full of good nutrients and provide us with quick energy when our blood sugar levels drop between meals. However, fruit also has a darker side, particularly for dogs.

As mentioned above, fruit is essentially nature’s candy. In other words, it is packed full of sugar, which can be hard on your service dog’s system. Additionally, the high fiber content, something that is great for humans, can actually be too much for dogs. Let’s take a look at these dangers in more detail.

Sugar-Why is sugar bad for dogs? A multitude of reasons actually: tooth decay, inflammation, poor gut health, weight gain & diabetes, for starters. Let’s break these down:

We all know that sugar is infamous for being bad for our teeth. Basically, tooth decay happens when bacteria that naturally live in the mouth turn sugars into acids. This leads to demineralization in the tooth enamel, which in turn leads to dental decay (ie. Cavities) and dental disease.

Too much sugar also causes inflammation, which means it can both cause and exacerbate arthritis, allergies or even some cancers. When inflammation (a natural body process used as a defensive mechanism against infection) is triggered by chronic intake of sugar, it can become a real problem for your service dog. Some symptoms of chronic inflammation include allergies, fatigue, joint pain, abdominal pain, swelling, mouth sores and rashes.

As if dental health and inflammation weren’t bad enough, sugar can completely screw up the balance of micro organisms in the gut, leading to a thriving atmosphere of the “bad” gut bacteria at the detriment of the “good” bacteria. This can lead to diarrhea, yeast infections and a perfect playground for parasites to thrive. While all of this information is true of humans, it is possibly even more so for your service dog, if only because they need so much less sugar than humans, meaning their bodies will more quickly be thrown out of balance.

Sugar can lead to obesity, which is a growing concern among veterinarians who are seeing more and more overweight dogs. Obesity is dangerous for your canine because it can cause or exacerbate other conditions such as arthritis, heart and respiratory problems. And of course, obesity, can lead to diabetes.

Diabetes type 2 can be caused by excessive sugar in the diet. Insulin is what monitors sugar levels in the blood and helps the body translate sugar into energy. When there’s a ton of sugar, there is a ton of insulin being produced. This can actually lead to cells becoming nonresponsive to the insulin and the pancreatic cells (which produce insulin) become exhausted.

Ultimately, what all this means is, your service dog’s body may wind up having too much blood sugar content, which leads to all kinds of complications, such as organ damage, nerve damage, arterial disease and depression (to name a few).

So keep your service dog healthy by keeping his pancreas happy. Don’t overdo the sugars, so the pancreas doesn’t have to overwork and get worn out!

Fiber-The other complication that can be found from feeding your dog too much fruit, has to do not with the sugar, but with the high fiber content.

While humans need a lot of fiber in our diets, due to our long guts and high-in-vegetation diets, dogs need much less. While dogs need only small amounts of fiber in their diets, they do need it.

In the wild, a dog would get a good amount of fiber from their prey animals: the bones, fur, cartilage and tendons are all fiber. Studies have shown that animal-based fiber is the healthiest source of fiber for dogs, cats and other predator animals, causing less toxic buildup in their bodies.

Of course, we generally think of fiber as being plant sourced, and in a domestic dog’s diet, it typically is. In the wild, a dog will eat the stomach contents of their prey, which means they will get plant-based fiber from whatever their prey is eating (i.e. grasses, barks, berries and other vegetation).

However, many domestic dogs actually get too much fiber, which results in lack of nutrient absorption and frequent bowel movements. Talk to your vet about your dog food options to make sure your service dog food is high in protein and doesn’t contain a ton of filler (such as unnecessary fiber!).

When feeding your service dog fruits, consider that the high fiber content means they really don’t need very much.

How to Share Fruits with Your Furry Friend

So now that you understand the positive and negative consequences of sharing fruits with your dog, you may be thinking, “the negatives clearly outweigh the positives,” but you still want to toss your dog an orange slice or banana piece. Well, good news-the point of this article is not to make you freak out that every time you’ve shared fruit with your service dog you’ve been doing damage.

Sharing fruits with your service dog (with the exception of grapes, and some other toxic plant parts which we’ll discuss below) is fine, as long as you are keeping it to a minimum. Just don’t feed them a whole fruit salad for dinner. A bite here and there as a treat is fine, fun, and even nutritional.

There are, however, a few rules of thumb on how to feed your dog fruit in the most conscientious way, insuring he gets the most nutritional value while avoiding potentially damaging consequences.

First and foremost, as with any new food you are introducing to your service dog’s diet, you want to introduce fruit slowly. Sensitive dog stomachs can respond harshly to foods they aren’t familiar with, causing diarrhea or even vomiting. Additionally, by starting small, you can watch out for potential allergies.

Allergies happen when any dog meets with a particular protein he can’t handle, resulting in anything from itchy skin to organ failure. By starting out slowly, you can observe your service dog’s response and not overfeed him something that will have major consequences.

When feeding your service dog fruits, keep it fresh! In other words, avoid dried and canned fruits. Dried fruits concentrate sugars, which, as we discussed, can lead to major complications with your dog’s health over time. Canned fruit also tends to be extra sweet, often swimming in a syrup of added sugar and preservatives that are definitely unhelpful to your sweet service dog’s health. Stick to fresh fruit!

It is also best to use organic fruit when possible, to avoid damaging pesticides and fertilizers. If not possible, at least be sure to rinse the fruit well, to get as many pesticides and chemical fertilizers removed as possible.

It is also always a good idea to be aware of potential choking hazards. Cut fruit into small bites and remove any big seeds. Dogs tend to gulp their food, rather than chew, leading to complications.

Along this line of thought, it’s also a good idea to remove any peels. While our instinct may be to let our service dog chew on a banana or orange, complete with peel, since it resembles a chew toy and provides entertainment to the dog, in reality, the rough fiber of peels is too much for a dog’s digestive system.

This dense fiber is really challenging for a dog’s stomach to digest. In addition, if they don’t chew it well (and dogs are notorious for not chewing their food!), it can cause plugging of the intestine, which can be deadly. While they will usually just pass the peel, it is really best to avoid the potentially fatal consequences.

If you know your service dog has eaten a peel and is now puking, treat it as an emergency-a dog will puke if their digestive tract is plugged up.

Toxic Fruits! AVOID

Cyanide and Cherries: Often listed as toxic to dogs, the fruit of a cherry is actually just fine for your service dog to consume. However, the seed contains cyanide and is considered poisonous.

In fact, cyanide is found in cherry pits, apple seeds, apricot pits, peach pits, plumb pits and in most stone fruit pits in general. Cyanide is a poison that works by blocking the flow of oxygen between cells, resulting in cell suffocation. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning in your service dog can include dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, bright red gums, shock and even death.

While cyanide poisoning is no joke, it would also require a fair amount of ingested seeds to lead to an emergency situation. Obviously, it is best to avoid eating these seeds altogether, but do not panic if your service dog eats one or two-likely he will be fine. Monitor him and call the vet if you notice any symptoms.

With all the fruits mentioned above, it is important to cut the fruit away from the seed when feeding it to your service dog. This is not the time for letting a peach pit be a chew toy.

Grapes: Grapes (including raisins, grape juice, currents and trail mix that contains raisins!) are the only fruit that are truly toxic to dogs. Seemingly an easy snack to toss your pup’s way, they can actually lead to fatality.

While it is still not understood what this canine-harming toxin in grapes is, the effects of it are real enough. Grapes and raisins can lead to sudden kidney failure. Some dogs are effected, and some are not, though there is no understood pattern among those effected (it has caused kidney failure across breeds, sexes and ages).

Additionally, grape poisoning in canines does not appear to be dose dependent. This means, unlike with the cyanide found in fruit pits, only a couple grapes could cause serious damage to your service dog.

Symptoms of acute kidney failure include a lack of production of urine, halitosis, lethargy, stomach cramps, weakness, loss of appetite, diarrhea & puking (often within a few hours of eating the grapes), tremors, seizures, and death.

If you suspect your service dog has eaten grapes, monitor her closely. If ingestion happened within the last 2 hours, you can induce vomiting by pouring hydrogen peroxide down her throat. Call your vet immediately for guidance.

Canine Friendly Fruits:

Apples: Apples contain vitamins A and C and are low in fat and protein, making them a good snack for your service dog.

Bananas: Bananas are super high in potassium and also contain biotin, copper and other vitamins. However, they are also super high in sugar, so keep pooch’s snacking to a minimum.

Blue Berries: Blueberries are a superfood and make an excellent dog snack. They are high in antioxidants, great for the eyes and are akin to berry snacks dogs would eat in the wild.

Melon (cantaloupe and watermelon): High in water and nutrients, melons are fine as a snack for your service dog, but their high sugar content means they should be kept to a minimum.

Cranberries: Cranberries are great, especially fresh-they are more sour than sweet.

Mango: Mangos are a fine snack to share with your service dog, just be sure to remove the peel and pit. They contain vitamins A, B6, C and E.

Oranges: Oranges are a good snack, so long as you remove the peel which includes too much roughage for a dogs digestive system. Oranges are high in vitamin C and potassium.

Peaches: Peaches are high in vitamin A and a great snack, as long as you remember to avoid giving your service dog the pit. In other words, don’t just hand your dog a whole peach to munch on, tempting as that is!

Pear: Pears are excellent fruits to share with your service dog, being high in copper and vitamins C and K. Again, be sure to avoid the seeds.

Pineapple: Pineapple is great because it actually contains an enzyme called bromelain which helps with absorption of protein-excellent for a meat-eating dog!

Raspberries: While raspberries are great for their anti-inflammatory effects, and are low in sugar, they DO contain some xylitol, which is bad for your service dog. Just be sure not to feed your dog more than a cup at a time.

Strawberries: Strawberries contain an enzyme that actually works to whiten your dog’s teeth! However, they are also high in sugar, so be sure you aren’t so excited about white teeth that you’re actually causing cavities for poor Fido.

Tomatoes: Tomato fruit is great, but be sure your service dog doesn’t get a hold of the green part of the plant which contains a toxin called solanide. Only toxic in large amounts, watch out if your dog is eating your tomato plants in the garden!

Conclusion

Sharing fruit with your service dog can be fun and even nutritional for them. Just be sure to keep their fruit intake to a minimum and AVOID GRAPES! If you stick to that mantra, you and your furry pooch will likely have many happy days sharing the fruit basket.