Disabilities that Qualify you for a Service Dog

If you have a physical, emotional, or even mental disabilities, then you may likely qualify for a service dog. If you believe you qualify for a Service Dog and are ready to begin the progress of making your pet dog into your trusted partner, here is a helpful summary with next steps.

However, finding out what qualifies and what doesn’t qualify for a service dog can be a difficult task. If you’re looking for what qualifies for getting a service dog, three federal laws regulate and help define what qualifies for a service dog.

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1. ADA – Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a person with a disability as individuals with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. 

To break down this definition: 

  • The person must have a record and be regarded as having the impairment, which can including having difficulty hearing, seeing, walking, and learning, as well as a loss of physical or mental function
  • Major life activities including activities that are essential to a person’s life, such as performing manual tasks.

2. FHA – Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act doesn’t specify what illnesses qualify for a service dog, but much of how they define service dogs rely on the qualifications of the Americans with Disability Act. While the act itself applies specifically to service animals, the FHA takes some of those qualifications and uses it to a grouping term, “assistance animals.” This includes both service dogs and emotional support animals under the Fair Housing Act.

Disability, according to the FHA, is a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities. The FHA states that for those looking for accommodations for housing, the housing provider must consider if the person seeking to live with the animal have a disability and if the service animal can alleviate the symptoms of that person’s disability. Besides that, the FHA doesn’t expand on what illnesses qualify as a disability.

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3. ACAA – Air Carrier Access Act

The Air Carrier Access Act, on the other hand, does give more specifics on what qualifies as a disability. For those looking to take their service dogs while traveling, all airlines will accept service dogs without question, and will only not permit service dogs into the cabin of the aircraft if the animal is too heavy, poses a threat to others, cause disruption to the cabin service, or is not allowed in a specific country. One specific qualification for people flying is that their disability is listed underneath the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

List of Mental Disabilities that Qualify for a Service Dog

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, these are the types of disorders that qualify as a mental disability: 

  • Depression and Depressive Disorders
  • Anxiety Disorders & Phobias
  • Bipolar Disorders
  • Schizophrenia and Psychotic Disorders
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Addiction, Substance-Abuse, and Alcoholism
  • PTSD, Trauma & Stress-Related Disorders
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders
  • Dissociative and Personality Disorders
  • Autism
  • Neurocognitive and Sleep-Wave Disorders 

However, the manual is more relevant for those who have a psychiatric service animal, emotional support animals or therapy animals. Those with service dogs will not be required to provide documentation or show proof of their disability. However, looking through the manual can help you determine whether a psychiatric service animal, an emotional support animal, or a therapy animal is the right choice for you. 

List of Physical Disabilities that Qualify for a Service Dog

Service dogs can benefit their owner by providing a physical service or task. Service dogs can assist with a variety of tasks that include opening doors, carrying items, navigating their owner, providing balance, alerting their owners, locating objects, and more.

Physical disabilities that may qualify a person for a service dog:

  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Sensory Disabilities (Blind, Deaf, etc.)
  • ALS
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Spinal Cord Injury
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic Pain
  • Stroke
  • Paralysis
  • Vertigo
  • And more…

Frequently Asked Questions about the ADA and Qualifying Service Dogs

Your disability is enough to qualify you for a certified service animal. You don’t need to have social security disability, nor do you need to qualify your service animal through a mental health professional because the ADA only allows those asking about you and your service animal two questions: 

  • Is the dog a service animal required because of a disability?
  • What task is the animal trained to perform?

Because of this, housing providers and staff of businesses cannot inquire about disability, require medical documentation, require a unique identifier for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its abilities.

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Your service animal is a service, like a medical assistant, and is not considered to be a pet. Because they are service animals, it gives them the rights to be with you in public spaces. Service animals provide support for you as you live with your disability, so while no regulations are surrounding the training and registration of service animals, keep in mind that service animals are for those with disabilities, and are not just a free pass for you to take your pet anywhere you’d like. The ADA’s regulations are clear not but everyone will be aware of it. Local agencies such as NY’s MTA would recommend registering your Service Dog so you have a Service Dog ID handy in case you are asked.

— Update: 16-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Want to better manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism? Hang out with a pet from the website functionalhealthnews.com for the keyword hypothyroidism service dog.

Hypothyroidism service dog

Most pet lovers find their furry, feathered, hoofed, and scaly companions count among their best friends. But pets aren’t only good company — research shows they greatly benefit your mental and physical health. For someone with Hashimoto’s, a pet may improve your immune health.

Pets help the developing immune system

A study in Finland showed that babies who grew up in a home with cats and dogs were 44 percent less likely to develop ear infections and 29 percent less likely to receive antibiotics in their first year compared to babies from pet-free homes. The theory is that exposure to bacteria brought in from outside by pets helps the developing immune system learn how to react properly to germs in the environment. And the more time the pet spent outdoors, the greater the benefit.

Other studies show that children who live with dogs and cats in the first year of life are less likely to develop allergies to those animals later in life.

If you have Hashimoto’s and want to have a baby, you may boost your child’s immune health by having your child grow up with a family pet.

Pets help you live longer and lower disease risk

Babies aren’t the only ones benefiting from pets:

  • People with pets have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than non pet-owners, regardless of weight, diet, and smoking habits.
  • In subjects who have experienced a heart attack, dog ownership decreases the odds for death the first year post-heart-attack from 1 in 15 to 1 in 87!
  • In people undergoing stress tests or physical examinations, the presence of a dog during the exam lowered heart rate and blood pressure.
  • “Seizure-alert” animals are trained to signal their owners prior to a seizure as well as protect them during the event.
  • Some pets are trained to alert their diabetic humans to episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) before life-threatening symptoms develop.
  • Prescription drug use and overall costs of caring for patients in nursing homes dropped in facilities where companion animals became part of daily therapy.
  • The need to exercise a pet and care for it often results in better physical and mental health for the human, regardless of age.
  • Researchers at the University of Arizona are exploring whether dogs can improve human health by having a probiotic effect on the body.

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All of these examples point to the disease lowering and immune improving effects pets have on our health, which may help benefit the person with Hashimoto’s.

Pets provide mental, emotional, and social benefits for Hashimoto’s

A study at Tufts University found young adult pet owners are more connected to their communities and relationships, are more engaged in community service, help family and friends, demonstrate more leadership, and have more empathy and confidence than non pet owners.

Caring for a pet can prevent downward spirals by providing consistency and routine, helping us feel needed, and giving us something to do each day.

This is especially true for those who live alone, as well as the elderly, who say their pets provide social companionship and a reason to get out of the house for exercise and socialization.

Even families surveyed before and after they acquired a pet reported feeling happier after adopting a pet.

In conclusion, pet owners exhibit greater self-esteem, are more physically fit, more conscientious, less lonely, more socially outgoing, and have healthier relationship styles than non-pet people. The researchers concluded that our pets contribute to our sense of self just as much as our human companions do.

All of these factors have been shown to lower inflammation, which is vital when you’re managing Hashimoto’s. Of course, you don’t want to trigger a pet allergy, but some animal kingdom companionship can provide an incredible boost of inflammation-lowering therapy to help you better manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.

Ask my office for more advice on how to manage your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, an autoimmune disease that requires immune system management.


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About the Author: Tung Chi