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Are service dog veterinary bills tax deductible?

Service dogs at the vets office

A trained service dog helps make a disabled person’s life easier. They can count on the animal to perform duties that the disabled may otherwise be limited to do and as such, service dogs are required to accompany their owners all the time, including at public places and establishments. Without the dogs, the disabled will not be able to function properly.

The cost of keeping a service dog is fortunately recognized by the IRS. The federal agency considers this as medical expense.

“You can include in medical expenses the costs of buying, training, and maintaining a guide dog or other service animal to assist a visually impaired or hearing disabled person, or a person with other physical disabilities,” per the IRS. “In general, this includes any costs, such as food, grooming, and veterinary care, incurred in maintaining the health and vitality of the service animal so that it may perform its duties.”

Some Rules For Medical Expense Deductions

Despite the IRS provision, not all types of service-dog related deductions are applicable. Certain deductions have to be itemized in the IRS form’s Schedule A, from where the agency will evaluate the claims. Additionally, the total medical expenses for deduction must also not exceed 7.5 percent of the individual’s gross income. These very same rules apply for other medical and dental related deductions.

Not All Service Dogs Covered

The IRS may not extend tax deduction provisions on some types of service dogs, particularly if they are not certified to help the disabled alleviate his conditions. Since there is no governing agency that ascertains service dog registrations, the proof of the burden lies on the individual. The disabled has to show that he needs to dog’s help because of his medical limitations and he has spent for the dog’s training so that the animal can help him.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


The individual must be able to answer some of the following questions:

  • Has a licensed medical professional diagnosed the disability and determine that a service dog is necessary?
  • Has the dog been to a training school to be able to perform specific duties for the disabled?
  • Has the dog’s training and abilities helped with the medical condition and how?

Ideally, on top of the diagnosis from the health expert, service dogs that receive proper training from an institution can be provided with a certification to support IRS claims. However, if a service dog has been self-trained, the individual must personally ask a tax professional on how this can be covered by the tax deductions.

Disclaimer: While the information here is accurate to the best of our knowledge, laws may vary or change and you should always check with CPA or accountant. 

1 comment

  1. marilyn buschini says: March 23, 2020

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