4 Things to Consider Before Getting a Service Dog

Having a service dog can greatly enhance the life of someone living with a chronic disease. They allow patients to regain some of their independence by helping with small everyday tasks like opening and closing doors, fetching meds, acting as a prop or support as their owner stands, switching on lights and attracting attention in cases of emergency. As well as the help they give people with disabilities or illnesses, service dogs make great companions.

However, not everyone is suitable for a service dog. According to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, you need to consider a few things before deciding whether or not a service dog is for you.

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Assess your accommodations. 
You need to live in a place big enough for a service dog. Other things to take into consideration are whether or not you have a yard and if it’s secure.

Do you have any other pets?
Most service dog providers recommend that the dog is the only pet in the household, so if you already have a dog or a cat, it may be a problem.

Can you take care of the dog?
Having a service dog is a two-way street. You will need to be able to feed, groom, and clean up after your dog or have someone else who can.

Can you afford a service dog?
In addition to the initial cost of the animal, it costs an estimated $1,500 to $2,000 a year to look after a service dog, including food and healthcare. The average service dog stays with an individual or family for around eight years.

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Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

4 comments

  1. viviane says:

    That article is very helpful, but for Me, I have at home 6 dogs and 3 cats, they are my best friends, my companions, I go for walk for an hour each morning with 3 of them, the others stay at home because where I go they is a farm with CHICKEN and the other 3 LOVE running after chicken….but we have a 3 acres garden, fenced, so, no problem for them……I would love to have a service dog to travel with me, but my husband said…..we have enough animals….oh well, get a lot of love from them at home…..my Son with diabetes has a service dog and He does wonder for Him,,,,,

  2. Helen says:

    Having had service dogs for over 30 years AND helping train dogs for the military, service, and police for over 40 years I can add to this discussion.

    1) Buying a trained service dog can cost up to $50,000! Not covered by insurance, for profit websites such as “Pawsitivity” for psychiatrically trained dogs START at $33,000. The website recommends “crowdfunding” (like “GoFundMe”) to raise money if you don’t have the needed money. Who does? The wealthy, I guess.

    In short–it’s become a racket. Nothing like scamming the disabled.

    The ONLY service dogs that are basically “free” are from http://www.seeingeye.org/
    Yes, “Seeing eye dogs” is a a branded name for a specific company

    “Seeing eye” dogs for blind people costs $150 per person to fly in, stay in housing for 2 weeks to learn to work with the incredibly trained dogs. Read the entire site! This non-profit charity organization breeds and raises its own dogs at the New England site. Only four breeds are used.

    In the USA, the only disability to get a full tax exempt status is blindness. (And being over 65.) No itemizing deductions, you just have to check off a box at the top of your return.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2005/04/when_did_the_blind_get_a_tax_break.html

    Other disability groups have tried to get a similar exemption. In the 1970s my senator from Hawai’i Dan Inouye who lost his arm in WWII tried to get it for the deaf. The bill was defeated. Why? Congress was “afraid” that every association for specific chronic problems like diabetics, fibromyalgia, autism would decrease the tax base immensely. Also the blind have had highly paid and skilled lobbyists for nearly a hundred years.

    It’s also “easy” to determine blindness. Any person who has 20/400 vision or worse THAT CAN’T BE CORRECTED like with glasses is considered to be blind.

    Then take diabetes or fibro. Different levels of diagnoses–no clearcut definition of disability. IOW, does EVERY person with diabetes qualify? Or does one have to be on specific doses of insulin? Is decreased kidney function enough–how MUCH decrease? Need for kidney transplant or needing to be on dialysis? How about the necessity for amputation of limbs-because of bad circulation? PLUS many people think that people have diabetes because they were obese or just didn’t take care of themselves! (Members of congress are debating such idiocy in trying to get rid of ALL government health insurance–including Medicaid and Medicare!

    2) Saying that yearly fees for owning a service dog can be $1500 to $2,000 is laughable. Preventive meds for heart worm, fleas, hookworm can be up to $60/mo-$720 a year alone! ONE medical emergency can add up to thousands for a few days hospitalization. One trip to the vet for a simple problem (ear infection) can be $150 to $200. Vets are accredited doctors with hefty student loans-$150,000 plus for four years of vet school. There are specialists who go to school even longer-(allergy, behaviorists, orthopedic surgeons, oncologists –yes dogs get cancer and are treated.) Yearly vaccinations, cleaning teeth under general anesthetic (Your dog won’t sit in a dentist chair and tolerate in depth cleaning like you can.)
    Bathing and grooming by a professional can be up to $120 a visit every 6-8 weeks. I have had fibro for decades–struggling to bathe a dog and using clippers to groom can take an IMMENSE amount of energy. These guys are STRONG! Dogs love to drink and play in dirty, polluted grungy water—but a nice bath in warm soapy water? NO WAY!

    3)There is a DIFFERENCE between a service dog and a comfort, emotional support dog. An emotional support dog does NOT qualify as a service dog under the ADA (Americans with Disability Act) and DOJ (Department of Justice.)

    https://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm

    ***This article needs to be more exact. A service dog is NOT a pet. Now if you want a buddy to help you cope (I get it!) that is NOT a service dog.

    While people want to take their best buddies everywhere with them, the USA is REALLY cracking down on the specific definitions of “service dog.”

    BTW–ANOTHER scam are online sites that sell Service dog vests (not necessary for genuine service dogs) and “certifications” for $250–they give you an ID card you can carry. REAL service dogs don’t need bests, ID cards etc.

    Please read the ADA link.

  3. Diane says:

    All expenses related to the ownership and maintenance of a service animal are tax deductible. If one itemizes their taxes, this can help defray the costs of ownership.

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