How Can Your Pet Reduce Your Tax Bill?

How Can Your Pet Reduce Your Tax Bill?

Eliza Carter
May 31, 2024
May 31, 2024
Icon check
Reviewed by
Isaiah McCoy, CPA
Tax guide
How Can Your Pet Reduce Your Tax Bill?
Eliza Carter
May 31, 2024
May 31, 2024
Icon check
Reviewed by
Isaiah McCoy, CPA

Pets play significant roles in many of our lives, from companionship to hunting support to furniture destruction. Many people consider their pets members of the family. 

So it makes sense that pets can factor into your taxes. After all, Americans spend a whole lot on their fur babies: $136.8 billion, as of 2022

While the IRS doesn’t quite agree that pets are the same as human family members, there are ways your pet could decrease your tax bill. In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about writing off pet-related costs – including what you can’t write off and how to keep track of what you can.


Can you claim your pet as a dependent?

Pets do not count as dependents, we’re sorry to say. Though the IRS doesn’t specify that dependents must be human, that’s generally how the category is understood. None of the IRS definitions of a “dependent” include animals.

But that doesn’t mean animals can’t reduce your tax bill. In some cases, they can — just not as dependents. Pet costs related to things like service work, foster care, and more can significantly diminish your tax payment. 

Are service animals tax-deductible?

Yes! If you have a medical condition such as epilepsy or blindness and your pet is trained to support your needs related to that condition, that animal’s costs are tax-deductible.

The IRS lets you deduct service animal-related costs as medical expenses on your Form 1040. You can also potentially write off: 

  • 🎾 Training
  • 🐩 Grooming
  • 🍖 Food
  • 🛍️ Supplies
  • 🚙 Transportation
  • 🩺 Vet care and pet insurance

What do all of these costs have in common? They help ensure that your service animal is prepared to do its job. 

One thing to note: The IRS defines a service animal as one that is “individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability” – and that training “must be directly related to the person’s disability.” For example, a guide dog is specifically trained to help its handler navigate obstacles.


Are emotional support animals tax-deductible?

Generally, no: Costs related to emotional support animals are not tax-deductible. That’s because they don’t meet the training criterion of the “service animal” category. Although they may be a crucial source of well-being, emotional support animals aren’t trained to perform a particular task, so they don’t count as service animals in the IRS’s eyes.

Tax-deductible pet expenses for 1099 workers

If you do animal-related contract work or have a pet-related small business, you might be able to deduct certain business expenses. Eligible work might include:

  • 🐕‍🦺🚶Pet care work on sites like Wag or Rover 
  • 👮🏼🐶Security where you “employ” dogs 
  • 🐱🐶💲Other circumstances in which pet contributes to your income, such as operating a pet influencer account

If any of these apply to you, you might be able to write off some costs related to that work. 

Not sure whether your pet’s costs count as deductions? Give Keeper a try. We can help you not only figure out what purchases are deductible, but also keep track of those expenses throughout the year. When tax time rolls around, you can file with Keeper, too!

Other pet-related tax deductions

  • 💂🐶 Guard dogs: If your pet guards your business location, you might be able to deduct costs like dog food, training, and vet bills on Schedule C
  • 🏆 Shows: If you go to pet shows, like dog or cat shows, and bring in money from it, you might be able to deduct related costs
  • 🐱🐶 Foster pet costs: If you foster from a qualified 501(c)(3) and the organization doesn’t reimburse you for food or supplies, you can deduct those expenses on Schedule A as charitable donations

As anyone who’s left a PetSmart somehow $300 poorer knows, pets are pricey. So you may be hoping for some major tax relief. Unfortunately, you can only claim deductions if your pet is a certain kind of pet. The general rule to keep in mind is that if your pet either:

  •  Helps you make money, or
  •  Helps you manage a medical condition 

Then you can probably write off at least some of the costs they incur. And of course, as we’re sure you’d agree, having a sweet, furry companion is priceless.



Is there a pet tax credit?

No, there is no pet tax credit. But there are other ways owning an animal can minimize your tax bill, such as costs associated with service animals or pets that contribute to your household income.

Can I write off food for my foster dog?

Yes, you can deduct costs related to pet fostering as charitable donations! As long as the organization you’re fostering with doesn’t cover the expenses, you can write off food, supplies, and veterinary care for foster animals. 

You can also write off 14 cents per mile on any driving related to charity work. So if you put in significant miles ferrying foster pets around town, and you fostered from a qualified 501(c)(3), you could get a solid write-off. 

Is pet insurance tax-deductible?

In some cases, you can deduct pet insurance. The rule of thumb is that you can write off the cost of pet insurance if your pet:

  1. Is a service animal (meaning it is specifically trained to support people with a medical condition you have), or 
  2. Contributes to your household income in some way

Can I claim my emotional support dog on my taxes?

No, unfortunately, you cannot claim your emotional support dog on your taxes, unless it is trained to support a specific medical condition that you have – which means it is categorized as a service animal. If that answer disappoints you, good news: You have an emotional support dog to turn to for consolation.

Eliza Carter

Eliza Carter


Eliza has spent the past 10 years in various communications roles, spanning local journalism, copywriting, nonprofit email marketing, and a stint on the founding editorial team at email newsletter leader Morning Brew. She holds an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University and has a Chihuahua mix named Misty.

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How Can Your Pet Reduce Your Tax Bill?
How Can Your Pet Reduce Your Tax Bill?
How Can Your Pet Reduce Your Tax Bill?
How Can Your Pet Reduce Your Tax Bill?

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At Keeper, we’re on a mission to help people overcome the complexity of taxes. We’ve provided this information for educational purposes, and it does not constitute tax, legal, or accounting advice. If you would like a tax expert to clarify it for you, feel free to sign up for Keeper. You may also email with your questions.