A black giant Schnauzer stands facing her handler. She is wearing a small red training vest and seems to be standing in a department store.


Can you get reimbursed for service dog expenses?


If done correctly, yes!

Service dogs can indeed be claimed as a tax deduction by individuals with disabilities, as recognized by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Service animals – the cost of a specially trained animal to assist in coping with an impairment for a person who is in any of the following situations. The person:

  • is blind
  • is profoundly deaf
  • has a severe and prolonged physical impairment that markedly restricts the use of their arms or legs
  • is severely affected by autism or epilepsy
  • has severe diabetes (for expenses incurred after 2013)
  • has a severe mental impairment (for expenses incurred after 2017). The animal must be specially trained to perform specific tasks that assist the person in coping with the impairment.
  • An animal that only provides emotional support is not considered to be specially trained for a specific task

    In addition to the cost of the animal, the care and maintenance (including food and veterinarian care) are eligible expenses.

    Reasonable travel expenses for the person to go to a school, institution, or other place that trains them in the handling such an animal (including reasonable board and lodging for full-time attendance at the school) are eligible expenses. The training of such animals has to be one of the main purposes of the person or organization that provides the animal.

    Source (search for “service animal”): Canada Revenue Agency Medical Expenses list

    Do I need to be approved for the Disability Tax Credit?

    If you’ve already been approved for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC) by the Canada Revenue Agency, there’s no requirement for a form from a medical practitioner to claim service dog expenses for a tax credit. However, if you haven’t been approved for the DTC, you may need a letter or form from your medical provider.

    “The CRA may ask for a signed statement from a medical practitioner showing when the impairment began and what the duration of the impairment is expected to be. You do not need a signed statement from a medical practitioner if the CRA already has an approved Form T2201, Disability Tax Credit Certificate for this impairment.

    You may also be asked for receipts for expenses paid or other documents to support your claim, such as proof that the animal was provided by a person or organization one of whose main purposes is providing the special training.”
    Source: Medical Expense Credit

    What expenses can I submit?

    This encompasses various costs related to the care of the service animal, such as purchasing the animal, training expenses, healthcare, food, treats, gear, and other relevant expenses. While not explicitly required, having a physician’s prescription can strengthen your claim, especially if it’s initially denied. Given the general guidelines regarding service animal expenses, compiling supporting documentation is essential for a successful claim.

    It’s important to note that emotional support animals do not qualify as tax-deductible medical expenses, as defined by the Canadian government.

    It’s important to recognize that owner-trained animals are not explicitly covered in the CRA guidelines. Nevertheless, some owner-trainers have successfully claimed their animals as a medical tax deduction. Each case is unique and may require a different approach.

    Supporting documentation that may strengthen your claim includes:

  • A letter from your trainer detailing the dog’s training, including tasks performed, training duration, and the trainer’s qualifications.
  • A letter from your attending physician or another medical professional affirming the necessity of the dog.
  • The application submitted to the provincial government for the public access test, if applicable. (Note: some provinces lack service dog regulations and thus do not mandate a public access test).
  • To qualify for a tax deduction on eligible medical expenses, you must meet a threshold limit set by the CRA each year. For the 2023 tax year, the threshold is $2479 or 3% of your net income, whichever is lower. For instance, if your net income for 2023 is $30,000, you can claim expenses exceeding $900 (3% of $30,000).

    Tax Deduction at Source

    Tip: If your medical expenses are accumulating, and you could benefit from an early tax return, consider requesting a tax deduction at source. This arrangement reduces your taxes directly from your paycheck, providing financial relief in the short term. More information can be found by clicking here.

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