Is your Service Dog Tax Deductable?

by Spot on August 21, 2008

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I ran across this interesting question and response on Yahoo Answers. This might be very helpful information for some.

Q - I am aware that you can claim your Service Dog on your Taxes however I am on SSI and SSDI and only make 647 per month so I do not file taxes according to the IRS. However I been told because Amber is my dependent I should be able to get help with food for her because of my income level and because she is a need to help me live independently. How do I get this help. I do collect Food Stamps from what I understand because she is a dependent I would get a small amount of cash assistance from Arizona Department Economic Security but they say NO is this true? Because US department of Justice and ADA says I am suppose to get help due to my income but from whom?

A – You can’t claim a dog, even a service dog, as a dependent. The tax deduction is for unreimbursed medical expenses, not dependents. Under the law, service animals are considered durable medical equipment or property. There is no federal program for funding her food or veterinary costs.

SOME, but not all, states have programs which give people with disabilities partnered with service dogs trained by a recognized program a small stipend to defray some of the costs of maintaining a service dog. Your Center for Independent Living may be able to help you find out if such exists in your state. Otherwise, I suggest you contact your state representative and ask them whether your state has such a program. They aren’t likely to know the answer, but they are very likely to know where to direct your question. Having them inquire on your behalf will mean you get a speedier response than if you tried to follow the trail of red-tape yourself to find the government official who actually knows.

Is this sort of information useful to you? Let me know in a comment below.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Silverstar98121 08.22.08 at 2:35 am

When I was still on GA-X, before I got my SSDI award, the Washington state department paid me about $37/mo to help with my service dog expenses. Sometimes I wish I was still poor enough to get it. I’m paying so much of my own medical now, and not getting enough for a tax deduction, that I’m going broke.

2 C 01.19.09 at 2:00 pm

I was also told that my service animal is considered a tax deduction, and that I should keep all my receipts and claim her as a dependent, especially since she assisted me in going to work for a short time, under the ticket to work program, so how do I find out more about this and claim her as a dependent?? I am going to call both ssd and irs and ask them if I find out anything significant I will re post. anyone who might be able help please write me at

3 Dani Dorresteyn 02.02.09 at 9:21 pm

My service dog is not a tax deduction but I do get extra food stamps every month to help defray the out of pocket expense for dog food. It’s not much, but every bit helps. (I live in Virginia but this may vary from state to state.)

4 Anonymous 02.07.09 at 9:40 am

Your Servie Dog is tax deductible, as long as you truly have a disability, you can deduct all his, medical needs, Flea control, heartworm meds, anything that is required for your dog even food, not toys, but harness, vest, equipment, thats used for your dog. It is a medical nessessity, and it is tax deductible. :mrgreen:

5 Anonymous 02.16.09 at 9:56 am

What if it is your child who has the service dog?

6 Anonymous 10.02.09 at 10:22 am

You can claim the animal as a deduction (not dependent, dependents have to have a social security number). All of their expenses, in excess of 7.5% of AGI, will be deductible whether for yourself or a child (dependent). As far as I know, these are the rules for federal taxes.

7 Kane 09.21.10 at 6:12 pm

According to IRS pub 502 (2009), “You can include in medical expenses the cost of buying, training, and maintaining a guide dog or other service animal to assist a visually-impaired or hearing-impaired person, or a person with other physical disabilities.”

There is some debate whether a therapy animal is included in this deduction. However dogs for mobility or neurological disorders such as Autism are considered to meet the needs of a physical disability.

8 skip 10.03.14 at 5:40 am

You can deduct ANY cost associated with the health and vitality of said service animal ( such as food,grooming,harrnesses,flea and heart meds and gas mileage to go get it) in order to reduce gross income.Your sevice animal is a medical deduction in its entirity.Dont let anyone try to tell you otherwise.See: IRS publication 502,medical deductions.Scroll down to “Guide dog or other assistance animal” food is a deduction.Then scroll down to “transportation” under car expenses.You can deduct .24 cents a mile(2013) for anything associated with the care of your service animal including gas and oil and if neccessary,housing/motel cost.This is no different than you deducting mileage for a Drs. appointment or the mileage to pick up a perscription or an extended stay away from home for it.
I currently use these deductions to lower adjusted gross monthly income to lower my rent in low income elderly/disabled housing.Save all your receipts but be aware if your receipt is clogged up with other stuff not directly towards the animal itself then its no good.The trip has to be for the sole intent of the animal itself.Example:you go to walmart and buy food,cloths toys and a flea collar.You can write off the collar but not the mileage to get it because the intent of the trip was not for the health and vitality of said animal.Even the cost of buying the animal is deductible.You may have to argue this because most people dont know about it including tax prepares but refer them to IRS publication 502 medical deductions.

9 Celestine Parker 01.18.15 at 11:29 pm

This is great I pay for all my service animal,food,groming being on only SSI a refund would help how many years can I claim back?

10 Sue 01.22.15 at 11:00 am

That is something you would have to ask the IRS or a Tax preparer.

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