By Amy DeYoung
Updated Jan 6, 2023
The average pet parent spends $111 every month on care expenses for their pet. While our pets are worth every penny spent, it would be nice to have a break during tax time when it comes to pet-related expenses, like pet insurance or medical bills.
So, is pet insurance tax-deductible, and can you write off other pet-related costs?
Below, we’re sharing everything you need to know about pet insurance and pet-related costs on your taxes.
Pets are never considered dependents. Typically, you can only claim your pet on your taxes if it’s a service animal or related to your business’s income. You may qualify for pet tax deductions if you foster pets or donate to animal shelters. Your donations or money spent fostering may be eligible as a charitable gift on your taxes.
If you qualify for pet tax deductions that would allow you to write off pet expenses like:
These are the six most common pet tax deductions as of 2022. As always, we recommend consulting with your tax professional for a specific breakdown personalized to your needs. However, the following information can guide you on what expenses you may be overlooking as write-offs.
Consider tax deductions for pets that contribute to or service your business if you own a business. This would be classified as a business expense deduction, but you would have to prove that the cost of having and keeping your pet is necessary to running your business. For example, you may be able to claim a deduction if you have dogs that work on your farm and herd livestock. Alternatively, if you have a trained, professional guard dog that protects your business, you can deduct the expenses of buying and keeping your guard dog.
If you’re considering claiming a pet as a business expense, store all your receipts for purchasing and caring for your pet. These receipts may include pet food, vet bills, pet insurance, and pet-related moving expenses.
Most of us can’t deduct pet medical expenses on our taxes. However, you can deduct medical expenses paid out of pocket during the tax year if they exceed a specific percentage, typically 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.
If your pet helps you in a medical capacity, you may be able to claim it on your taxes in this way. For example, if you have a service animal, you rely on it for medical assistance.
Examples of standard service animal services include:
Some pet parents have emotional support animals or therapy animals, which provide them with a therapeutic benefit if they have a psychiatric or mental health disability. Remember, all pets provide us with emotional support. Still, a recognized emotional support animal usually involves a mental health professional “prescribing” an emotional support animal and specialty training for the animal.
If you plan on claiming your service dog or emotional support animal, be prepared to provide a note from your doctor to support your claim that you require a service animal for your health.
If you foster animals, the expenses of caring for the fostered pets may be categorized and deducted from your taxes as a charitable donation. However, this typically only applies if the animal is from a qualified nonprofit organization. Many nonprofit organizations will pay for the vet bills and cost of food for fostered animals. However, you may be able to write off anything else that is necessary that you pay out of pocket, such as the cost of buying dog gates for your home, crates, leashes, or collars.
You may also be able to deduct the fuel costs you rack up if you track your mileage. However, this deduction won’t include your commute to the shelter but any fuel costs you incur due to volunteering, such as transporting pets from a shelter to a home.
If your pet performs and you earn an income from this, you may be able to write off related costs for your pet as a business expense.
For example, if you own a cat cafe, you could deduct the cost of keeping your cats as a business expense since they’re a critical part of the cafe’s marketing and success. Other examples include if you ride horses professionally, have a successful pet influencer business, or your pet appears in commercials, movies, print advertisements, or TV shows.
If you believe you fall into this category, track all your expenses to maintain your pet and expenses related to the activity or performance. For example, if you purchase cat scratching posts for your cat cafe or photo props for your pet influencer.
Please note that taking your pet to work doesn’t qualify this as a necessary business expense, whether you’re a self-employed or traditionally employed taxpayer. Your pet must be essential to the business to be considered a tax write-off to the IRS. The IRS will only consider income from a licensed business, so be sure your pet influencer gig or side hustle is licensed. Even if it’s monetized, it won’t count as a write-off if you aren’t registered with your country.
You might be able to write off moving expenses related to your pet if you had to spend extra money transferring it to a new home. For example, if you used an animal transportation service.
However, this pet expense must meet certain criteria first:
Essentially, this write-off is only for big moves for your career. Changing neighborhoods or moving for other non-work-related reasons won’t qualify you for this additional deduction.
The trust designates tax responsibilities, too, including:
You may qualify for a charitable donation deduction if you plan on donating part of your estate to a nonprofit organization or animal shelter.
No, for tax purposes, your pet doesn’t qualify as a dependent.
Its medical expenses are tax-deductible if your pet is classified as a working animal or service animal. If you foster animals through a registered nonprofit that doesn’t reimburse you for medical costs, you may be able to write these expenses off.
Yes, if your pet is the star of a monetized social media platform, such as YouTube or TikTok, it can be classified as a performance animal. However, your pet influencer must be monetized, and the business must be registered in your country to be recognized. If your pet qualifies, you could write off expenses related to its performance and maintaining your pet.
If you have a service animal, you’ll typically need to provide proof of its training and certification to support a specific diagnosed condition or illness. A doctor’s note may also be required to show that this is a medical necessity. For working animals, you’ll need to prove that this is an ordinary and necessary expense for this type of business. For example, if you work at a fair and operate a petting zoo, these animals would be an ordinary and necessary expense for the business.
Typically, pet medical expenses are not tax-deductible unless your pet qualifies as a service animal, foster animal through a verified nonprofit, working animal, or performer animal. This means most pet parents cannot deduct healthcare bills, grooming costs, or pet insurance.
Generally speaking, pet insurance and pet care costs will not be tax-deductible unless your pet is medically necessary or vital to your business. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t save money on your pet’s medical bills. Pet insurance, even if it’s not deductible, can save you money during unexpected medical emergencies, illnesses, accidents, and more.
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