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Are Service Dogs Covered by Insurance?



girl in wheelchair with service dog

In addition to being helpful companions for those with disabilities, service dogs are also considered medical devices by many insurance companies. This is because, for many people, service dogs greatly improve their quality of life, and they would not be able to complete certain tasks with the assistance of their service animal.

It’s well-known that service dogs can be quite expensive up front, but if you are interested in adding one of these well-trained working pups to your life, you may be wondering if they are covered by insurance.

Our article gives you all the information you need to know about service dog costs and whether or not service dogs are covered by insurance.

How Much Does a Service Animal Cost?

Service dogs are highly trained, and training often begins from the time a dog is a puppy.

Service dog training is extensive, and dogs are generally evaluated for their skill at completing essential service dog tasks and overall temperament before being moved on to train with their potential owners and strengthen that bond.

Because of this rather intensive training routine, service dogs can be expensive to obtain, and costs often exceed tens of thousands of dollars. On average, you can expect to pay $17,000 to $40,000 for one of these helpful animals.


However, many facilities train service dogs and work to provide service dogs at lower costs to individuals with need. You should research foundations, scholarships, and subsidies through the organization you are looking to adopt a service dog from to find out if some of this outright cost can be decreased.

You should also keep in mind that the costs of your service dog don’t stop with adoption, and you should be able to properly care for your service animal via veterinary visits, toys, food, bedding, and other enrichment items.

Types of Service Dogs

There are a few different types of service dogs out there, and while they often have different specialized training skills, they are all around the same cost. Any advanced training skills specific to a certain disability will need to be discussed between you and the organization training your service dog.


Therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort and relax those who might be suffering from symptoms related to mental health conditions or disabilities like autism.

Therapy dogs are often trained in skills like deep pressure therapy, redirection, and bringing their owners medication and water. Therapy dogs should not be confused with emotional support animals that provide comfort to their owners but are not trained to complete a specific task.

Mobility and Guide

Mobility and guide dogs aid those that have issues walking or moving and those with visual impairments.

These dogs are trained to help move with their owner, provide support to individuals when they are standing or moving, and to retrieve items for their owner. They may also be trained to open and close doors, turn lights on and off and alert others to find assistance for their owner.

Medical Alert

Medical alert dogs are typically trained to help individuals with conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions, seizures, severe allergies, or other types of medical conditions.

These dogs may alert their owners to items that contain allergens, warn their owners of blood sugar and blood pressure drops, or detect when seizures are about to occur, assisting their owners as they find a safe space.

Psychiatric and Mental Health

Mental health and psychiatric service dogs are trained to provide assistance to those suffering from mental health conditions or disabilities such as depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder, PTSD, or schizophrenia.


They may help their owner identify hallucinations, provide redirections from harmful behaviors, and provide a sense of comfort for their owners by checking rooms and supporting their owners when out and about in public.

Will Insurance Cover a Service Dog?

It’s hard to give an exact answer to whether or not your insurance will cover a service dog, as this varies on a case-to-case basis.

You will need to consult with your specific insurance plan and determine how they classify service dogs and the tasks they perform; if the classification of a service dog with your insurance is as a medical device, or the tasks that your service dog would perform are considered essential, you may be able to get insurance assistance with the up-front cost of your service dog.

If your insurance doesn’t cover any part of the service dog, you may alternatively be able to write off the cost of training or adopting a fully trained service dog on your taxes as part of your medical expenses. Again, this is a highly personal and situation-dependent thing, so make sure to speak with a tax consultant about your individual situation before deciding on your next steps.

Can I Train My Own Service Dog?

If you want to skip the insurance aspect of this process altogether and save money on a service dog, you might be considering training your owner service animal.

This is possible, but it does take more time and dedication than purchasing a service dog from an organization that specializes in this. However, building a bond between you and your dog while training them to complete service dog tasks is often a bonus of this process.

Keep in mind that training your own service dog does also have costs, such as the cost of training materials and equipment and professional assistance if you need help with more advanced tasks, though these may be much lower than obtaining a fully trained service dog.

Getting the Helpful Companion You Need

Service dogs are essential companions for many individuals with disabilities, though these working pups may be too expensive for some individuals to obtain outright.

If you are considering adding a service dog to your care and treatment plan, consult with your insurance plan first to see what may be covered. From there, you can contact scholarships and funds that might be willing to help you obtain a service dog if you have a great financial need, or you can decide to train your own service dog.

No matter which way you go, you will be able to get the helpful service dog companion you need.

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