Expert Service Dog Training for Life-Changing Results

Is My Service Dog Tax-Deductible?

Large fluffy black dog with a green bandanna lies on a black and tan dog bed and looks at the camera

Did you know that the costs associated with a service animal are tax-deductible if you are itemizing your medical expenses? And that service animal expenses may also be counted when getting public benefits such as food stamps (SNAP), Section 8, or other low-income programs? 

It’s tax season again. Because we help disabled people to train their own service dogs, we want to make sure the process of raising, training, and partnering with a service dog is as affordable as possible. This post has some tips that you can check with your certified public accountant (CPA) or benefits counselor.

Side view of a woman with brown ponytail and tattooed arm, outdoors in a sunny wooded area, as she looks down at and pets her small white fluffy service dog looking up at her.

Claiming Service Dog Costs on Your Taxes

To deduct service dog expenses, your overall medical expenses (including service dog costs) must be greater than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. 

The costs associated with the dog that you can claim include food, vet bills, purchase of the dog, training, grooming, etc. This means your training lessons and classes are tax-deductible! Use schedule A of Form 1040. 

It is usually recommended that you have a letter from your doctor or other healthcare provider indicating that you have a disability that requires a service animal. Here is the IRS document that mentions service animals. If you’re having trouble finding the section on service animals, search by “guide dog” to find it most easily.

The relevant IRS form is Publication 502 (2023), Medical and Dental Expenses. It says:

Guide Dog or Other Service Animal

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. 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.

You’ll note that the IRS form mentions “visually impaired or hearing disabled” people and people “with other physical disabilities.” While the form does not mention psychiatric service dogs, it is generally understood that any service dog under the ADA (which includes psychiatric service animals) should be covered. Please speak to your accountant to confirm this.

Man in a power wheelchair taking an object from the mouth of a German shepherd dog sitting in front of him.
US Army and US Air Force Veteran Frankie Mazzei and his service dog Maizie.

Service Animals as Medical Deduction for Public Benefits Programs

If you are on benefits programs such as Section 8, SNAP, fuel assistance, etc., you can include service animal costs in your medical expense deduction to boost your monthly benefit amount. While you *cannot* deduct the cost of an ESA (emotional support animal) on your taxes, you may sometimes be able to deduct ESA costs for these other types of benefits programs if you have a letter from your medical provider. Speak with your case worker to make sure this is true of the benefit programs you’re working with.

Service Dog Training Scholarships & How We Can Help

If you are training with us and need a receipt to show to your accountant or benefits advisor, please contact our office so that we can provide an itemized receipt of all training expenses for the relevant time period.

Note that we also provide some discounts and scholarships to low-income individuals who are training service dogs with us through the Natan Maimes & Travel Service Dog Scholarship Fund. This program is funded by individual gifts from members of the community. How much is available at a given time depends on how much funding is available. If you’re interested, please watch the free informational video on our home page and then fill out the owned dog intake form. At the end of the form, indicate you’re interested in scholarship funding; let us know if you’re on SSI, SSDI, VA benefits, or other low-income benefits programs.

We are NOT accountants, but are providing this information as a service. Please speak to your CPA to confirm details.


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