Does Insurance Cover Service Dogs? Exploring the Financial Aspects of Service Dog Ownership

by Lisa

Service dogs play an invaluable role in assisting individuals with disabilities, yet the acquisition, training, and maintenance costs associated with service dogs are typically not covered by health insurance plans. However, there are alternative financial avenues and nonprofit organizations that can provide assistance in affording these vital companions.

Once you have a service dog, you may consider a pet health insurance policy to safeguard against unforeseen healthcare expenses your service dog may incur.


Understanding the Financial Landscape:


Health insurance plans generally do not encompass the expenses involved in acquiring, training, or maintaining service dogs.


Alternative funding options for securing a service dog include grants, crowdfunding, state or federal assistance programs, and personal loans.


Additionally, there are various types of insurance tailored to dogs that can aid in their lifelong care and protect owners financially in the event of any accidental harm caused by their dog.

What Is a Service Dog?

A service dog is meticulously trained to assist individuals with disabilities, as per the Americans with Disabilities Act. These dogs serve diverse functions, such as guiding individuals around obstacles in public spaces, alerting hearing-impaired individuals to everyday sounds, providing mobility support, detecting psychiatric episodes, and seeking help in the event of a seizure.

Insurance Coverage for Service Dogs:

In general, insurance policies do not cover the expenses associated with acquiring or maintaining service dogs, except for one notable exception. The Department of Veterans Affairs extends a veterinary health benefit to qualifying veterans who have service dogs trained by an accredited organization affiliated with Assistance Dogs International (ADI) or International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF).

Accredited agencies furnish service dogs and training to veterans at no cost, with comprehensive veterinary services provided by the VA. These services include annual preventive care visits, urgent and emergency treatment, as well as necessary medications.

The Cost of a Service Dog:

The price of a service dog is substantial, given the specialized training and care they require. Typically, a fully-trained service dog may cost between $15,000 and $30,000, with some breeds and advanced training potentially reaching $50,000. Additional expenses could encompass application fees, further training services, as well as travel expenses for both the owner and the dog.

For those inclined to train their service dog independently, cost savings are possible, but the dog must demonstrate competence in performing tasks and exhibit good behavior in public settings. A Public Access Test (PAT) can certify a dog’s readiness, and prospective handlers should familiarize themselves with these requirements during training.

Professional dog trainers can also be enlisted for assistance, with training costs ranging from approximately $2,000 to nearly $27,000, depending on the specific needs and duration of training.

Notably, some individuals, such as approved veterans, may qualify for a free service dog from an organization, while nonprofit organizations may offer free service dog training or placement for eligible individuals. Nevertheless, the qualification and placement process may entail a lengthy waiting period, spanning several years.


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