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The Impact of Service Dogs on Depression: A Comprehensive Analysis

Service Dogs and Depression

Depression is a pervasive mental health condition that affects millions of individuals in the United States. While traditional therapeutic approaches are effective, the complementary use of service dogs as emotional support animals has garnered increasing attention in recent years. This article aims to provide an in-depth examination of the role of service dogs in enhancing the mental well-being of individuals with depression. By analyzing a mix of recent and historical studies, we will uncover the benefits of service dogs in mitigating the symptoms of depression, along with the tasks they are trained to perform to support those struggling with this condition.

The Bond between Humans and Service Dogs

The unique bond between humans and dogs is deeply rooted in history. Since ancient times, humans have recognized the therapeutic effects of canine companionship. Service dogs, specially trained to provide emotional support, forge an unparalleled emotional connection with their handlers. This bond forms the foundation for the positive impact these animals have on mental well-being.

Benefits of Service Dogs for Depression

One of the primary benefits of service dogs for individuals with depression is their ability to alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation. The constant companionship and unconditional love they provide can significantly reduce the sense of detachment experienced by those grappling with depression.

Service dogs also play a crucial role in easing anxiety and promoting relaxation. Their calming presence can help individuals manage stress and reduce anxiety levels. The tactile comfort of petting a dog has been shown to release oxytocin, a hormone associated with feelings of bonding and happiness.

In addition to emotional support, service dogs are adept at boosting mood and improving the overall emotional state of their handlers. Engaging in activities with these animals, such as playing fetch or going for walks, can release endorphins and serotonin, neurotransmitters known for their mood-enhancing effects.

Tasks and Training for Depression Mitigation

Service dogs are trained to perform various tasks that cater to the specific needs of individuals with depression. Their training is tailored to recognize and respond to the distinct symptoms that manifest in different ways for each person. Some of the specific tasks that service dogs are trained to perform to mitigate the symptoms of depression include:

1. Interrupting Negative Thought Patterns: Service dogs are trained to recognize signs of distress or agitation in their handlers. When they observe signs of negative thought patterns, such as repetitive negative thinking or rumination, they can interrupt these patterns by nudging, pawing, or performing other gentle physical cues. This redirection helps individuals focus on the present moment and break free from harmful thought cycles.

2. Providing Deep Pressure Therapy: During depressive episodes, individuals may experience heightened anxiety and physical tension. Service dogs can be trained to apply deep pressure therapy by leaning against or lying on their handlers. This pressure provides a calming effect, reducing anxiety levels and promoting relaxation.

3. Encouraging Physical Activity: Depression often saps individuals’ motivation to engage in physical activities. Service dogs can act as encouraging companions, motivating their handlers to go for walks or engage in playful activities. Regular exercise, facilitated by the presence of service dogs, can release endorphins, which help improve mood and overall emotional well-being.

4. Sensing and Responding to Emotional Changes: Service dogs have an extraordinary ability to sense changes in their handler’s emotional state. They can pick up on subtle cues like increased heart rate or changes in breathing patterns. When a handler displays signs of distress or sadness, the service dog responds with comforting behaviors, such as leaning in for a hug or providing gentle cuddles.

5. Offering Social Support: Depression can lead to social isolation and withdrawal from others. Service dogs act as social facilitators, breaking down barriers and encouraging interaction with others. Their presence often sparks conversations and fosters connections, helping individuals with depression feel less isolated and more engaged in social settings.

6. Navigating Public Spaces: Service dogs are trained to assist their handlers in navigating various public spaces. In environments that might trigger anxiety or discomfort, the dog can lead the way, providing a sense of security and support. This allows individuals with depression to feel more confident and capable while outside their familiar surroundings.

Empirical Evidence and Research Findings

Recent scientific studies have yielded promising results regarding the impact of service dogs on depression. These studies indicate that the presence of a service dog is associated with reduced symptoms of depression and increased overall well-being. The companionship and support provided by these animals have been shown to complement traditional therapeutic interventions, resulting in improved treatment outcomes.

Historical case studies also provide valuable insights into the long-standing use of service dogs for emotional support. Documented experiences demonstrate the enduring positive effects that these animals have had on individuals battling depression throughout history.

Challenges and Considerations

While the benefits of service dogs for depression are evident, challenges remain in making these support animals more accessible to those in need. Issues such as the cost of training and obtaining a service dog can pose significant barriers for many individuals.

Additionally, there is a need to dispel misconceptions and reduce stigma surrounding the use of service dogs for mental health support. Public awareness and education can play a crucial role in fostering acceptance and understanding of the benefits these animals provide.

The Future of Service Dogs in Mental Health Care

As research in the field of animal-assisted therapy continues to evolve, the role of service dogs in mental health care is likely to expand further. Collaboration between mental health professionals and service dog organizations can lead to innovative approaches and best practices in utilizing these animals to support individuals with depression.


The research and studies discussed in this article reinforce the positive impact of service dogs on the mental well-being of individuals with depression. From mitigating feelings of loneliness to providing emotional support during difficult times, service dogs offer a unique and invaluable contribution to mental health care. As our understanding of the human-animal bond grows, so does the potential for service dogs to play an increasingly significant role in enhancing the lives of those affected by depression in the United States and beyond.

One valuable resource for individuals seeking to utilize the support of service dogs is the National Service Animal Registry (NSAR). Registering with the NSAR can provide official recognition of a service dog’s role in supporting mental health. While registration is not mandatory, it can offer various benefits, including easier access to public places and housing that may have pet restrictions. However, it is essential to ensure that service dogs are adequately trained and meet the necessary requirements to fulfill their role effectively.

In conclusion, the continued research and development of service dog programs, along with increased public awareness, hold the potential to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for individuals with depression. As the bond between humans and service dogs deepens, these remarkable animals will undoubtedly continue to make a positive impact on mental well-being, offering hope and healing to those in need.

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

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

Understanding Service Dogs and Their Training

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

The Benefits of Service Dogs for Individuals with Disabilities

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

Service Dogs in Specific Contexts

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

The Distinction Between Emotional Support Animals and Service Dogs

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


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

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Everything You Need to Know About Service Animal Tax Deductions

service animal tax deductions

Updated May 30, 2023

: Expenses add up quickly if you own a pet. Costs can exceed $2000 a year with food, health treatments, grooming, etc. While pet parenting may feel like a full-time job, the IRS doesn’t seem to think so. The IRS has a list of requirements to claim someone as a dependent and your pet isn’t in it. But the scenario changes when it comes to a service animal. Since it shares a co-dependent relationship with the owner, the owner is eligible for service animal tax deductions.

Sounds like a relief? Not so fast. There are certain nuances that need to be met to qualify for service animal tax deductions. Let’s take a look.

How the IRS Defines a Service Animal for Taxpayers with Disabilities

The IRS recognizes service animals as working animals and not pets. They can be guide dogs, signal dogs, etc. that receive training directly related to their handler’s specific disability and provide assistance to them. Some of the tasks they can perform include:

  • Guiding the visually impaired
  • Guiding those who are hard of hearing
  • Assisting those with limited mobility or mobility disorders
  • Pulling a wheelchair
  • Protecting a person having a seizure
  • Reminding the handler to take medicine
  • Assisting a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack
  • Other disability-related tasks

What About Service Animals for Those With Mental Disorders?

While the above list mentions PTSD, the definition puts those with psychological, intellectual, psychiatric, and other categories of mental disorders in a gray area. The IRS eliminated this doubt in a 2010 letter to former Congressman, John Tanner that stated the following:

“The costs of buying, training, and maintaining a service animal to assist an individual with mental disabilities may qualify as medical care if the taxpayer can establish that the taxpayer is using the service animal primarily for medical care to alleviate a mental defect or illness and that the taxpayer would not have paid the expenses but for the
disease or illness.”

Reasons Why a Service Animal is Tax Deductible

The cost of living with a disability, mental or physical, is high. Limited abilities limit work opportunities, thus causing financial strain. Many may not even be able to afford regular physician visits, medicines, and medical equipment. A service animal, while a necessity for many, is also an added expense. A service dog costs somewhere between $15,000 and $30,000 upfront. On top of that, the yearly ownership cost can vary between $500 to $10,000. No major insurance companies cover service animal expenses, which makes it even more difficult to bear the cost.

But these animals are still necessities. Just as any medical equipment like hearing aids, wheelchairs, travel expenses for medical care, etc., service dogs are considered medical aid for a disabled person, physical and mental. Therefore, they are a part of your medical expense, which makes them tax-deductible according to the IRS. So whether the service animal is for you, your spouse, or any of your dependents, the expenses are covered. This tax write-off helps a great deal in helping those with disabilities or a taxpayer whose family member is disabled live a better life.

Tax-Deductible Service Animal Expenses

So far, we have established that service animal tax deductions fall under the category of medical expenses on your taxes. However, you are only eligible if your medical expense exceeds 10% of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).

What is an AGI? Gross income includes wages, business income, dividends, and other income. AGI is your gross earning minus adjustments like student loan interests, contributions to a retirement account, alimony, etc.

If you qualify for service animal tax deductions, following are some of the costs that are considered tax deductible:

  • Cost of buying a service animal
  • Training cost
  • Licensing fees
  • Food expenses
  • Veterinary fees
  • Grooming cost
  • Animal equipment like leashes, harnesses, vests, etc.

According to the IRS, all expenses incurred to maintain the vitality and health of the service animal to continue performing its duties are covered.

When is it Beneficial to Seek Service Animal Tax Deductions?

First, let’s talk about standardized deduction. It amounts to $12,950 when filing as a single taxpayer or as a married person filing separately. For a married couple filing jointly, the standardized deduction is $25,900. However, when you claim tax write-offs on your service animal expenses, you need to itemize your deductions by filing Schedule A on Form 1040.

While it may sound like a daunting task, it is worthwhile. However, it only makes sense to file itemized deductions if it exceeds your standard deduction. Otherwise, it’s all work, less return.

Another option is to claim ‘impairment-related work expenses’. This is less limiting than medical expense deductions. Who can qualify? Only those with a physical or mental disability that restricts employment opportunities for them or limits regular activities like walking, breathing, speaking, learning, performing manual tasks, etc.

Documents You Need to Claim Service Animal Tax Deductions

To be eligible for service animal tax deductions, you need to prove that the animal assists you with a diagnosed physical or mental disability. So you will need documentation from your physician and receipts of all qualified medical expenses. These documents will come in handy if the IRS decides to conduct an audit and comes calling at your door.

service animal tax deductions

If you have a psychiatric condition that necessitates the use of a service animal, we can help with the documents. At National Service Animal Registry, when you register your psychiatric service dog (PSD) in our database, your dog gets a unique identification number which can be used by the IRS to verify the status of the animal, if required.

Additionally, we assist with psychiatric service dog letters. You can order a PSD letter on our website and we will give you an assessment to fill up. This will be reviewed by our licensed mental health practitioner (LMHP) and if you qualify, the letter will be delivered to you.

Information That a Psychiatric Service Dog Letter Must Include to Act as Proof for Tax Deductions

This letter is one of the primary documents to support your claim for service animal tax deductions. The Psychiatric Service Dog letter must be written on the official letterhead of the LMHP and contain the following details:

  • Diagnosis of your impairment
  • Requirement of a service dog to assist with your daily tasks
  • Name and contact information of the LMHP
  • License date and jurisdiction of LMHP
  • Signature of LMHP
  • Date of issue

Keep in mind that a PSD letter is valid for one year from the date of issue. So you will need to renew it to keep your tax documents updated to avail service animal tax deductions.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

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

  • If your service dog expense is covered via a donation or is reimbursed from a source other than your income, you will not be able to claim service animal tax deductions
  • Other animal-related expenses that are eligible for tax deduction include fostering pets, business animals, and taxable income from pets
  • Your service animal should be harnessed, leashed, or tethered unless it interferes with its ability to perform its tasks
  • A service animal is recognizable by the harness. If you are out in public, at a restaurant, seeking accommodation, etc. with your service dog, no one can ask you about the disability you have or ask you to have the dog demonstrate its tasks.
  • Your service animal should be housebroken and under your control at all times when out in the public

Maximizing Potential Benefits for Service Dog Handlers: Service Animal Tax Deductions and More

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

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


The aim of this blog is to inform you about the tax write-offs that you can claim if you own a service animal. However, it is not intended to serve as a financial guide for your tax decisions. It is always recommended to commission a tax specialist to help you navigate the intricacies of filing and ensure that you get every possible deduction you are eligible for.

If you need any help with the PSD letter or registering your service dog in our database, reach out to us at (866) 737-3930 or send an email to We would be happy to assist you.

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Everything You Need to Know About Service Dogs

What Is a Service Dog?

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

What Is a Physical Impairment?

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

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

What Are Major Life Tasks?

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

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

Major life activities do NOT include the following:

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

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

How to Get a Service Dog

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

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

What Are Your Protection and Rights with a Service Dog?

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

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

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

Flying with a Service Dog

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

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

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

What Kinds of Facilities are Places of Public Accommodation?

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

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

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

Title III of the ADA does not apply to:

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

Service Dog Registration and Accessories

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

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How to Get a Service Dog for Anxiety

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

Request a Prescription

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

Adopt a Service Dog

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

Training Your ESA

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

Register Your Support Dog

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

Frequently Asked Questions About Service Dogs for Anxiety

Do people with anxiety need service dogs?

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

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

Can service dogs for anxiety go anywhere?

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

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

Is social anxiety a reason to get a service dog?

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

What type of anxiety qualifies for a service dog?

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

Can dogs detect anxiety?

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

Does anxiety warrant a service dog?

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

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Does Your Service Dog Have Diabetes?

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

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

What is diabetes?

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

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

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

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

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

Type I and Type II Diabetes

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

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

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

What causes diabetes?

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

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

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

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

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

How do I know if my service dog has diabetes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How is diabetes diagnosed?

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

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

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

How is canine diabetes treated?

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

How much does treatment for diabetes cost?

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

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

What is the best diet for a dog with diabetes?

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

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

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

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

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

What if my Service Dog doesn’t get better?

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

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

Complications of diabetes

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

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

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

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

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

Final words

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

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

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

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

Take your emotional support animal to a restaurant

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

Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar

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


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

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

Stay at a dog friendly hotel

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

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

Planning a move?

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

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

Visit a dog park

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

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

Take your dog to Little Italy Mercato Farmers’ Market

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

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

Need veterinary care?

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

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

Explore the tide pools

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

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

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

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Rules Differ for Service Animals Vs. Emotional Support Animals – Here’s How

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?

Service Animals

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.

For more information about who qualifies for a service dog and how to register, visit our Service Dog Registration Page here.

Emotional Support Animals

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.

For more information about qualifying for and how to register an Emotional Support Animal visit our registration page here.

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.

Click through for detailed information about the rules governing housing and service dogs or Emotional Support Animals.

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.

For more details about public places where you can legally take your service dog, please read our guide.

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.

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How to Register an Assistance Dog: An Informative Guide

register an assistance dog

It’s incredible how much easier life can be with your dog by your side! We’re lucky to be able to build such loving relationships with such amazing animals. Unfortunately, we can’t bring them everywhere we’d like to go. That’s why it’s important to take the proper steps to register your dog as an Assistance Dog (service or ESA) or a therapy dog if you feel your pup adds to your quality of life. Dogs can reduce our anxiety, help us physically get around, provide emotional support when we need it the most, or help others in hospitals and/or hospices. If your dog provides this kind of comfort, then you can follow these steps to register your dog as a service animal, emotional support animal, or therapy animal.

Types of Assistance Animals

First, it’s important to understand what type of assistance category your dog falls into. Each category provides a different kind of support and function to their owner/handler or to others. Each category offers different legal rights as well. Basically, there are three types of assistance animals. Service animals, emotional support animals, and therapy animals. Service dogs are trained to help with various disabilities and can assist their handlers in many different ways. Service dogs are allowed in all public places. An Emotional Support Dog is a dog that doesn’t need any kind of special training but does provide the care and comfort their owners need. A Therapy Dog is a special kind of pup that provides comfort to other people.

Where Can They Go?

When you register your dog, it’s important to understand where they can and cannot go in public. Service Dogs can go anywhere and everywhere. They’re actually considered to be medical devices that are essential to their handlers. They’re not exactly considered to be pets. Emotional Support Dogs can live with you even if you live in a place with no-pet housing rules. Emotional Support Dogs can also fly with you and sit right next to you on a plane. Airlines, housing, and other establishments cannot charge fees for Emotional Support Dogs. Therapy Dogs don’t necessarily have special access to public places. They must be invited in before they can enter a hospital, home, restaurant, or any other public space.

How to Register an Assistance Dog ?

Once you understand what kind of training your dog needs and what kind of assistance they provide, you can move forward to register an emotional support animal, therapy animal, or service animal. Registrations through the National Service Animal Registry are quick, easy, and very affordable. Simply click on the appropriate category for registration and follow their easy instructions. You’ll be given options to purchase different products to make sure your dog is good to go. For instance, you’ll receive certificates, ID cards and leash clips, and the option of receiving electronic copies of your registration documents. Depending on your dog’s type of registration and your assistance animal needs, you can choose what kind of registration kit you and your pup require. If you move around a lot and travel is a big part of your life, you may want to opt for the premium kits to keep you and your assistance dog protected. Check out their website today for more information!

Service Dog Regulations

Due to the nature of its job, you can take your service dog with you everywhere – from grocery shopping to dining and even seated beside you on flights. But they can also be kicked out of establishments and denied access permanently if they are not well-behaved. So, it’s important to keep the regulations in mind when you register an assistance dog to take with you everywhere you go.

Licensing & Vaccination

All service animals fall under the licensing and registration requirements stipulated by the local authorities for all dogs. The same also applies to vaccination. If you are wondering how to register a dog as an assistance dog, there are several ADA assistance dog registry companies that can help. We, at the National Service Animal Registry, also provide registration kits that can come in handy for you.

Leash Rules

A service dog must always be harnessed, tethered, or leashed in public places. The only two occasions that this rule is exempt are when the leash interferes with the service animal’s ability to perform its tasks and when the handler’s disability prevents the use of these devices.

Maintaining Control

The dog needs to be under the control of the handler at all times, leashed or not. This means the service dog should not be allowed to bark repeatedly in libraries, theaters, lecture halls, or any quiet place. Even in other public places, if a service dog growls at other customers or becomes aggressive, the staff and owner of the establishment reserve the right to deny access to the dog.

Prohibited in Pools

Public health rules prohibit dogs in swimming pools and the ADA does not override this rule. This means if your gym, fitness center, hotel, etc. have a swimming pool, your assistance dog will not be allowed in it even if you decide to take a swim. However, they are allowed on pool decks and all other areas where other guests (without dogs) are permitted to go.

Seating at a Table

Service dogs are not allowed to sit at a table at a restaurant. Seating, food, and drinks are for customer use only. Your assistance dog can accompany you to restaurants and sit at the foot of the table if it is well-behaved and is under your control at all times.


Religious establishments like churches, mosques, temples, synagogues, etc. are exempt from allowing service animals on their premises. However, different rules may apply to different states.

Is it Necessary to Register Your Service Dog?

No. It is not a legal necessity to register your service dog. But registering a service animal has a lot of benefits. Let’s take a look:

  • When you register your service dog or assistance animal with National Service Animal Registry, you get an entire kit containing a lifetime service dog registration, inclusion in the database of National Online Service Dogs, a certificate, a leash clip, etc.
  • This gives you enough documentation for your service dog to help avoid confrontations. Even though these documents are not mandatory to have and neither are you legally required to produce them, having them with you will prevent unnecessary hassles if a situation like that arises.
  • You also get a service dog vest in the registration kit provided by the National Service Animal Registry. This helps a great deal with identification when you take your assistance dog with you in public places like restaurants, stores, public transportation, etc.

You ideally do not require any identification to take your service dog with you anywhere. They have full access to government premises, businesses, and all establishments open to the public. Business owners or staff are, however, permitted to ask you two questions about your service dog:

  1. Is the animal required because of a disability?
  2. What tasks can the service animal perform?

Keep in mind that you are not liable to answer any other questions related to your assistance animal or your disability. No one should even pet the animal or cause unnecessary distractions for it. This is because your service animal needs to be alert at all times to be able to assist you in your time of need.

Do I Need a Doctor’s Note for My Service Dog?

A doctor’s note is not necessary for a service dog. It is only required for Emotional Support Animals (ESAs). However, it is no uncommon situation where a business owner or staff gives you a hard time when a service dog accompanies you. Keep in mind that they may not know your rights. This is where a doctor’s note comes in handy. This can help you avoid situations where you may be given a flat-out refusal. 

A doctor’s note should contain the diagnosis of your disability by a licensed healthcare practitioner. It should also mention that an assistance dog has been prescribed as a part of your treatment plan. Remember that restaurants, housing, or any property with a ‘No Pets’ policy are required to make reasonable accommodations to their policies in accordance with the ADA for your service dog.

If you are still refused, you can seek help from the respective authorities to take action. For example, if you are refused housing, you can contact the Housing and Urban Development authority in your area. If your service dog is being refused in the cabin with you on the airplane, you can contact the manager or file a complaint. 

That being said, keep in mind that landlords and property owners cannot refuse housing on the grounds of having a dog – whether it is a service dog or an emotional support animal. You are also not liable to pay any extra fees, cleaning deposits, or surcharges for your service animal.
Chilhowee Psychological Services is one of the organizations that provide service dog letters by licensed healthcare professionals through a free pre-screening procedure. Find out more on their website.

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The Importance of Getting a Service Animal Registration Kit

Dogs are often called man’s best friend. They love unconditionally and they’re happy to tag along on car rides and walks around the neighborhood. For people with disabilities, dogs are more than a companion. When a dog is trained as a service dog, it means independence for a person who otherwise might need to rely on other people for help with daily living. In the United States, registering a service dog isn’t a legal requirement. However, when you register your dog, you help ensure your rights as a service dog owner are respected. If you decide to register your service dog, consider buying a registration kit. Learn more here about why these kits are important for service dog owners.

Documentation and Service Dog Status

Seeing a service dog at work is common today as a growing number of people use them for help with activities of daily living. It’s also common for restaurant staff, retail store management, and those in charge of other public establishments to question whether a person’s service dog is legitimate. When you purchase a registration kit, you’ll receive a certificate and an ID for your service dog. These two items provide proof of your dog’s status as a service dog. Keep both handy to show when you encounter people who don’t understand ADA laws for service dog owners. The documentation and identification you’ll receive make your service dog visibly official.

Registration Kits Help Reduce Discrimination

When you rent a home or apartment, of course, you’ll want your canine companion to live with you. Landlords and property managers don’t always know about protections offered to service animals and their owners. Sometimes they won’t rent to a person if they have a dog. If you have a disability or medical condition, you have a right to keep your service dog with you in your residence. The documentation in a service animal registration kit can be shown to prospective landlords. Since service dogs are not only medically necessary but protected by law, your documentation and pet ID cards should make discussions with prospective landlords easier.

Helps Your Service Dog Concentrate on Work

When people see you with your service dog, many want to pet or play with the animal. Their intentions are good, but they don’t realize how distracting they can be to your dog. Your safety and well-being depend on your dog remaining focused. One way you can help people not distract your dog is to use the patches in your kit. Patches are sewn on the dog’s service vest where people can easily see them. The patch identifies your dog as a registered service animal. You can also order patches that caution people not to pet your dog without your permission.

Keep Your Dog Safe During Emergencies

Registration kits for service animals help protect them. Imagine if you were in a situation where you needed to be evacuated. What would you do if you and your pet were separated? When your dog wears a vest with the patches included in the kit, emergency responders can be alerted to keep an eye out for your dog. They’ll understand the importance of your dog and your safety and will work hard to find your pet and put the two of you back together.

Whether you’re just starting out using a service dog or you’re a seasoned owner, consider buying a registration kit. It’s a logical step you can take to protect your right to have your service animal by your side when you go out in public. To see our selection of registration kits for service animals, contact us at the National Service Animal Registry today!