Are Your Pet’s Expenses Tax Deductible?

From the Editors of

The non-passing of the HAPPY Act (HR 3501) at the end of the 111th Congress left a lot of pet owners sad. If enacted, the bill would have given a $3,500 tax credit to pet owners with qualifying expenses.  And the depression grows around this time of year when many of us are treading in piles of receipts and credit card bills in an attempt to itemize and deduct all that we can.  Adding up pet care costs can be disturbing. It’s one of those things that you may not really want to know, if you want to stay in love with your pet.

As important as our pets are in our lives, nothing raises an accountant ‘s hackles more  than seeing “four dependents” listed on the tax return of a single man with a dog, two fish, and a ferret.

So, you’ve heard it before, and you’ll ask it again this year and probably again next year, but here is the answer you don’t want to hear: Your pets are not deductible. Their healthcare is not deductible. Their food, leash, sweater, exercise equipment, and bones are not deductible.

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It may cheer you up to hear that there are some pet deductions that are legitimite. Here are some good ones to discuss with your accountant—not your friend from the dog park, your accountant:

1. Pet moving costs

Here’s where your pet is considered to be a part of the family…the family property. If you qualify for moving expense deductions (i.e. if you move because you changed jobs), then moving expenses are deductible, including the cost of moving pets.

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2. Seeing eye/service dog

The law allows for: “The costs of buying, training, and maintaining a service animal to assist an individual with mental disabilities may qualify as medical care.” This isn’t just your pet who keeps you company when your buddies are all out of town. You have to prove the service animal is being used primarily for your illness. Be sure to have a medical doctor’s note in your files.

3. Guard dog

This is primarily for home-based businesses. Caution: as protective as your Pekinese can be, the IRS may not be too impressed with him or your very moody cat.  A guard dog should be registered, trained, and of a likely breed (German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Doberman, etc).

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4. Donations to animal shelters

While adoption fees are not deductible, money that you donate to the shelter out of gratitude may be. Be sure to check with the organization to clarify its non-profit status.

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Joe R.
Joe R.3 years ago


Ann F.
Ann F.4 years ago

wish we could....

Kathlene Lentz
Kathlene Lentz4 years ago

Gee, what a novel idea! Make the rich pay taxes! That will only happen if we elect people who aren't in the pockets of the rich. I've yet to meet a politician (especially a Republican) who isn't!

jane richmond
jane richmond4 years ago

Animals are not deductible on tax returns. The government seems to be having a hard time dealing with human dependents. I can NOT possible imagine what will happen if animals can be claimed. People spend the same if not more on their pets. However this will cut into the taxable income of people so they will pay less taxes. Where could we possible replace all that lost revenue? Tax the rich perhaps. It's only a suggestion.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener4 years ago

No idea.

Andrea Morehouse
Andrea Morehouse4 years ago

I wish it had passed!

Danica R.
Danica R.4 years ago

wish it would have passed!

Barb B.
Barb B.4 years ago

Excellent article, thanks!

Cindi N.
Cindi Nickle4 years ago

Would have eased some of the burden on the shelters and rescues by helping folks to keep their pets.

charles thomas
Charles Thomas4 years ago

We have two well trained very photogenic dogs which we use in ads promoting our business. Costs of grooming, training, medical and health products to keep them ad worthy and happy.