Because having a chronic lung disease such as COPD or asthma, makes breathing difficult and staying active can be challenging. For people who use supplemental oxygen, the weight of the tank can impede their activities.
Staying active and mobile is important, so finding ways to help you remain independent could improve your quality of life. For some people, having a service dog helps, but caring for the animal can be expensive.
However, if you apply for a service dog, does insurance cover the cost of getting a service dog?
How much does it cost to train and care for a service dog?
There are many established nonprofit organizations such as Canine Companions and Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc. that provide service dogs free of charge to those who need them.
Other programs charge the recipient of the service dog for part or all of the training costs. These costs can range from $15,000 to $50,000, depending on the specific services the dog is trained to provide.
Whether the service dog is donated or purchased, it is the owner’s responsibility to feed, groom, and maintain the dog, including veterinary bills which average about $1,500 a year.
Does insurance cover the cost of getting a service dog?
Few insurance companies cover the cost of a service dog. The good news is that many of the accredited non-profit service dog training programs and schools offer their service dogs for people with asthma and other lung diseases who need them at little to no cost.
It’s important to research service dog programs, both for-profit and non-profit, to be sure they are reputable and accredited. Look for programs accredited by Assistance Dogs International to ensure the program is adhering to industry training standards.
The process of applying for a service dog can be lengthy, and many programs require interview, references, in-home evaluations, and review of your completed application to ensure safety and proper placement.
Finding what’s right for you
Service dogs can be trained to assist people in a variety of ways. Depending on the services needed, individual service dogs are trained for specialized purposes. Some service dogs are trained to be guide dogs while others are trained to be hearing dogs, medical alert dogs, or even assistance dogs.
Service dogs can be trained to carry supplemental oxygen tanks for people with COPD, lightening their load. These dogs can also be trained to turn on lights, pick-up keys, and open doors. Walking the dog can also help increase exercise tolerance.
In combination with traditional medications, assistive technologies, service dogs, and alternative medicines could help people with chronic lung disease improve their quality of life.
Always consult with your doctor on finding a treatment plan that works best for you.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.