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6 Dog-Related Tax Deductions You May Be Eligible to Claim

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With tax day right around the corner, many of us are searching far and wide for any deductions we can get! That got us wondering, are dogs tax deductible? Well… not exactly, but there are some dog-related expenses that may be!

Tax Deductible

We all know our dogs are members of the family, but the IRS doesn’t see them that way – they can’t be counted as dependents. But, there ARE some dog-related expenses you might not be aware of! Of course, you’ll want to check with your tax professional to make sure your write-offs are legitimate.

1. Moving Your Dog:

Tax Deductible

According to Kiplinger, If you moved during the tax year, it might be possible to deduct your moving expenses – including those specifically related to moving your dog. For example, if moving your dog requires special expenses, those expenses are treated no differently (in the federal government’s eyes) than any of your personal effects. Making special arrangements to get Fido from your old home to your new one? Save the receipts!

2. Guard Dogs:

Tax Deductible

According to tax expert, Cliff Ennico as reported in Entrepreneur, guard dogs can be a legitimate write-off. This would include the cost of caring for the dog, but not the dog itself. And, you can only deduct a percentage based on how much time the dog spends guarding. But, if you’ve got a guard dog that protects your business and inventory (I wouldn’t really try this one as a personal deduction) this could amount to a nice deduction.

3. Charitable Donations to Dog Rescues/Shelters:

Tax Deductible

It would be easy to assume that the costs of adopting a dog from a registered non-profit, 501(c), would be deductible—the assumption would be wrong. The cost to adopt a dog is not deductible. However, any donations made in excess of regular adoption fees most certainly are. According to the law, only those donations made where no goods or services are received in exchange (i.e., your new dog) can be deducted. Should you choose to make donations to your favorite 501c dog charity, make sure to ask for a letter of receipt that states no goods or services were received. Donations of both goods and services to an approved charity are tax-deductible. When donating goods or services to an approved charity, ask for a donation receipt – you’ll need it if the value of your donations exceeds $250. To deduct a charitable contribution, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions on Schedule A.

4. Service/Therapy Dogs:

Tax Deductible

According to IRS Publication 502, 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-impaired person or a person with other physical disabilities. Just make sure you’ve got good medical records to back you up, should questions arise.

5. Jobs With Dogs Expenses:

Tax Deductible

If you own and operate a business with dogs, of course your dog-related business expenses are deductible. If you’re a trainer, you may be able to deduct mileage or transportation costs for visiting clients and their dogs. If you’re a dog walker and need to purchase business related items like leashes and poop bags, those expenses can be itemized. As with any job-related expense, just make sure to keep all receipts and be able to prove the items were for job duties, not for your personal pet.

6. Fostering Dogs:

Tax Deductible

As a result of Van Dusen v. Commissioner,  animal rescuers nationwide that are fostering dogs and/or cats for approved charities may claim the expenses during tax time. An approved charity is one that is recognized by the IRS with the 501(c)(3) designation as a Not-for-Profit organization. Fostering expenses eligible for deduction are food, medicines, veterinary bills, crates, garbage bags, and the like. Even a portion of your utilities can be considered expenses as long as a specific area of your home is only used for the care of the animals and nothing else.

As always, discuss these potential deductions with your tax professional to confirm they are legitimate for your personal financial and tax situation.

Image credit: Career Employer

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  1. Avatar Of Michael Michael says:

    I have seen both service and therapy dogs providing support and love. If the care of those precious animals is not a tax deduction they should be. Some people will always try to game the system. That does not change what should be.

  2. Avatar Of Kelly Winscott

    Kelly Winscott


    Have been asked by school counselor to be lead handler/ host home for school based therapy animal. She does not have a home conducive to a dog. Upkeep on a costly, trained therapy dog, used in schools (which have WAY more mental health issues in students now) will be significant. Its not the same responsibility as a personal pet. Can i get its upkeep deducted?

    • Avatar Of Brandy Arnold

      Brandy Arnold


      In the same way that a teacher can itemize deductions for classroom supplies that come from his/her own pocket as a cost of performing their job, you should be able to itemize certain costs associated with caring for the school therapy dog, like training, veterinary care, etc. However, everyone’s scenario is different, so it’s best to discuss with a tax professional that understands all aspects of your filing.

  3. Avatar Of Hazel And Sd Virgil

    Hazel and SD Virgil


    I just read this article, another possible deduction is Service Dog expenses for persons with disabilities who are employed. May have more tax savings than deducting under the Medical Expense category. Please everyone check the IRS Rules on this to see if you qualify.

    • Avatar Of Maxine



      I agree with you about that. It’s a multi-billion dollar business and everyone is getting paid but us. The Doctors,vets,hospital,doggie hotel,medical insurance and worse of all they have to pay rent.

  4. Avatar Of Robin



    Personally, we should be able to claim them as 'dependents'!

    • Avatar Of A



      I care for special needs dogs and cats. Not sure why there is no deduction for my dependents. 8 leg surgery's on one. Eye surgery on another (deceased). 15 year old cat with arthritis and a 9 year old cat who was beaten when I stole her. She's alright now, but had some surgery on her head and she's a tad wacky. And no, I'm not laughing. Thanks

      • Avatar Of Shelly



        I think You should be able to deduct some of those costs, especially if you volunteer with a rescue or local animal shelter

    • Avatar Of Realbkw



      They're considered goods, both by the IRS and courts.

  5. Very interesting, we had no idea you could deduct donations… Thanks for the interesting post!

  6. Avatar Of Hleinhauser



    I work with emotional and behavioral kids everyday, it is my job. I have a service/therapy dog. I am wondering what I can deduct, since I use him in my work everyday. Yes my organization is a 501(c)(3). Where do I claim that and what can I exactly claim?

    • Avatar Of Lew



      Service Dogs are NOT Therapy Dogs. Totally different. Service dogs are trained to mitigate 1 disabled persons needs. Therapy Dogs are trained to help multiple people and is more on the emotional side.

  7. Avatar Of Joyce Styron

    Joyce Styron


    By “Psychiatric service dogs,” I assume they mean the dogs that people with pseudo-psychiatric/emotional issues unethically take on planes, etc., without paying the charges that honest people pay. They claim the dog provides “emotional support.” Has anyone ever had a dog that DIDN’T provide emotional support? Such a disservice to genuine working service and therapy dogs!

    • Avatar Of Julie



      Joyce not kind. Psychiatric Emotional support dogs are not a disservice to us with other types service dogs. Please don’t bash a certain disability because some fool thinks they can pass through the system. TV can hype the “cheaters” but they are few and usually stick out like a sore thumb. Emotional support dogs are highly trained and I as a SD owner, handler, AND TRAINER welcome them.

      • Avatar Of Cw



        I don't believe Joyce was bashing service dogs. She was simply pointing out that some people, not all, unethically use service dogs when they are not truly suffering from a psychiatric condition. I know a woman who had her dog registered as a service dog. She purchased a kit online for $70.00. This woman is FINE. She doesn't suffer from any emotional support issues whatsoever. She just likes traveling with her dog everywhere, which is totally unfair to those who actually do suffer from such issues.

        • Avatar Of Marc C

          Marc C


          If the woman herself has not stated that she is only using the claim so that she can't take the dog with her, let's not assume that she isn't disabled and doesn't need the dog as support. We most certainly cannot know unless we have legal proof. Doing so, stigmatizes the individual. Stigmatization is what leads people to be deceptive about a mental health issue.

        • Avatar Of Barb



          Wow, Whats up with the blanket statement! Some dog owners are still buying certificates off the internet, in which I think they should make unavailable. For myself, I am a dog trainer, I also have a dog as an emotional support/medical alert animal. It is not an easy thing to get approved if you go through the proper steps. There is nothing more humiliating than someone of great ignorance asking the person with the support animal, if it is really a legal dog. It is also illegal to approach a person & service/emotional support asking questions. The only two questions business owner/airline can legally ask is 1} is Is that a service dog? 2} What task does the dog perform for you. Educate yourself first before opening your mouth.

    • Avatar Of Meesha Marie

      Meesha Marie


      Are you kidding me? Are you being serious in this post?

      I would hate for you to be saying that an emotional support canine is different than a physical support canine…
      My husband didn’t serve three tours in the Army for him to come back to his country and be degraded when he has emotional support dog. Are you going to say that his dog is less of a worker? Are you going to say that his dog receives less training? because my husband put his life on the line in some very dangerous countries and suffers from PTSD for your ungrateful ass to say that his main help is less of a support dog then one who serves a blind man?

    • Avatar Of Cynthia Martin

      Cynthia Martin


      Your comments are very unkind
      N they are ignorant

      There may be a few people that
      Are not truthful about needing a service dog

      But that’s the case w anything in life

      In years past I’ve been harassed
      For having a legitimate
      Service dog
      a seizure alert service dog

      I have multiple sclerosis n epilepsy

      My beloved service dog has passed away after 13 yrs n working on getting another

      I’ve never begruged others w service dogs
      Even a emotional support dog
      Or a dogfor diff types n mental health

      You stated with psudeo illness
      Meaning fake illness

      You do not know them or their medical history or what in their mind

      Or why they need a dog for
      Mental /emotional well being

      It’s a huge generalization
      To say them w their pseudo
      fake illnesses getting free
      Airplane rides for their dogs

      People that have?
      mental /emotional health problems
      Should have same Ada rules to. Protect their rights for a service dog as we’ll as people like me w a physical medical need for a service dog

      Just because you may not see a persons disability does not mean they don’t have ońe
      Any person w a disability has fought that battle
      W multiple sclerosis
      They have a book titled but you
      Look so good
      I went from walking to a wheelchair at 26 yrs old to walking w forearm crutches for 4 yrs to walking on my own w some difficulty n tire real easy n vision issues weakness pain ect
      I’ve been yelled at for using handicapped parking space n only use it wen needed
      N w M/s it’s here today gone tomorrow never know day to day n people don’t understand

      I’ve had a lady tell store manager she should not bring her pet dog in here n get mad wen told it’s a service dog

      A service dog is a tool to allow me to shop a lil independently
      N to alert me of a impending seizure so I can get in a safe place n not fall n sieze
      In middle of store floor ect

      My service dog got old n sick w heart problems n unable to walk distances so I put her in a stroller that accomplished 3
      things I still needed her n that was my best solution
      1 allowed her close to me to alert me
      2 kept her from giving out while servicing me n my disability

      3 allowed me stability
      While pushing stroller
      To keep my balance ect

      Every one in my area where I lived knew us n understood this

      They didn’t say ugly things to me they understood
      N every one missed her wen she passed she the the best

      A couple of times I had an ignorant store employee
      Walmart n albertsons
      1. X each think they knew the Ada better than I did
      Walmarts said no tags no dog
      I had tags n I didn’t leave

      Albertsons a new supervisor said I had to have a vest on her
      She died a few days after this one n is was devestated or I wld of fought it

      Both times she was in grocery basket w service dog tags n bag along w a service dog I’d around my neck very visable
      Store lady said Ada says dog has to wear a vest
      Ada does not say this at all

      Also it was turning icy every one at store n she dones this at check out in front of everyone loudly

      Both are wrong

      I have a daughter that is

      bi-polar has other mental emotional n anxiety issues
      She rarely leaves home. N can not be in a crowed area

      She stays mainly at her home
      W her dog not a service dog
      She wld bénifit from one greatly
      She is Not on Disability either
      Is is an adult

      I’m raising her daughter 5 yrs old
      Unless you know other persons issues n life medical n or disability then you have no right to speak about them nor judge them
      Of course my opinion only

      • Avatar Of Marie



        Good job on your defense of your best 4 legged friend. I'm sorry for your loss. I too suffer from MS and have terrible days and weeks and good ones where I look normal. I hope you find another dog soon to help you.

      • Avatar Of Kim Height

        Kim Height


        Great response!

      • Avatar Of Jim



        Spelling “and” punctuation, what a concept. Greatly improves readability.

    • Avatar Of Renee Hessell

      Renee Hessell


      I NEED a dog for the many issues I deal with, such as Lupus,no immune system, RA, continual blood clots, PTSD, depression, and isolation. Ahhhh, I cannot fly, , be out in the sun, be under fluorescent lights, or there are groups of people. I am isolated in my home with lighingredients provided by table lamps I cannot shop, fly,out or go on a cruise. Living in this isolation is more than just being lonely. Friends leave when someone like me falls I'll because the good and bad days are too unpredictable. An emotional service dog can help quell anxiety in doctos' offices or even alert another person in the home (such as my deaf husband). All of the above is more than keeping one company while flying. One could easily take offense with such a narrow-minded position. For example, I worked in retail during the opening of a brand new chain store. As usual, employees need to park far from customers'parking. I did just that, but in the handicappedcapped space. I had a permanent sticker since my heart was bad and excessive heat and cold were dangerous. I was called into the store manager'said office and was ordered to move my car I told him it was legit. I was young so he was a bigot. He told me I stole it from an old relative "everyone does it" attitude. People got word of it and pumped me with questions The only thing I said was that I had to move move my car. I was back in the manager's office after lunch and was reamed a new one. Called me a liar to my face, twice. Yes, there are people who lie to beat the system, there are also many of us who have legitimate needs. I was 21 when 5 got my first sticker. Hell, I am 63 and up until a few years ago, I got ripped apart every time I got out of a car–all by older people. If You attempted to say anything some of those oldies wanted to fight me. JudgING opinions can almost be like road rage–everyone needs to take a chill pill and as someone once sai….."put your brain in gear before you put your mouth in motion.

    • Avatar Of Lew



      Psychiatric Service Dogs are in fact Service Dogs, its not just emotional support as an ESA would do. They perform tasks for the Handlers needing them. There is quite a bit of information now on PTSD Service Dogs and Psychiatric Service Dogs. They are specifically trained to mitigate problems their handlers suffer.

  8. Avatar Of Lenny Matthews

    lenny matthews


    American with Disabilities Act 2011 has all the provisions for Service Dogs

  9. Avatar Of Jeff Jeff says:

    Hi Teresa

    Hope this reaches you. You say Psychiatric service dogs are tax deductible. Where does the IRS recognize this? Please post a link.


  10. Avatar Of Teresa



    Service animals are not just for those with physical disabilities. Psychiatric service dogs exist and are protected and deductible just like those for physical disabilities.

  11. Avatar Of Krueger



    Therapy Dogs should not be equated with Service Animals. A Therapy Dog is not a Service Animal and expenses related to Therapy Dogs are not deductible.

    • Avatar Of John Q.

      John Q.


      Krueger, you are partially correct. Therapy Dogs should not be equated with Service Animals. However, expenses doing Therapy Dog work (such as uniforms, mileage, parking, tolls, supplies, etc.) are tax deductible. Not sure if your organization has to be a 501(c)(3) or not.

      • Avatar Of Edith



        Are you kidding me?

        That’s like saying cognitive therapy isn’t really a medical expense, or since vaccines are optional they shouldn’t be counted as a medical need….

        Just because they do not wear a vest does NOT mean that they are not a service animal! I don’t have manic episodes out in the public but when I can tell one is one its way I rush home to my PITBULL THERAPY dog who has gotten me thru more than you guys have obvious had the to pleasure of not experiencing..at 20 I almost had to go on disability for my bipolar and anxiety and depression and all the other lovely annoying mental disorders I was blessed with, but instead I chose to learn and work hard, and long story short, since I have gotton my therapy dog, I have been able to to better control and not rely soly on over 20 EXPENSIVE pills a day — yes that is just my story but have you thought about the adults who need them to help with Asburgers (sp?) syndrome? or have you thought of the amount of kids in this country who are developing bipolar, adhd, and other emotional mental disabieslities who’s THERAPY dog has not only served them and protected them from hurting themselves but also provide their parents with a huge amount of relief knowing that they are being cared and watched over?! (<– all proven in studies and are in plenty of documentaries…and even on the new OH MY!)

        Just because you don't know does not mean you have the right to judge before even CONSIDERING asking why therapy dogs are important… get over yourselfs – if you don't understand why people have therapy dogs or why they are important or what the difference between a service dog and a therapy dog, then just ask,….you wont look as ignorant or self absorbed

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