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Service Dog Nutrition: All You Need to Know in 2022

Service Dog Nutrition All You Need to Know in 2022

Service Dog Nutrition: All dogs need a balanced diet, especially service dogs. Typically, a service dog can have a more active lifestyle with day-to-day tasks that it needs to perform. More importantly, the service dog’s diet can impact its energy levels, tolerance to illness, and mental health.

So, you’re probably wondering, what’s the best service dog meal plan? Don’t fret! Picking the right service dog nutrition plan isn’t that complicated.

Lucky for you, we have all the information you need to know about service dog nutrition in today’s article. Let’s get right into it!

Service Dog Nutritional Requirements

The diet of your service dog depends on the type of work they do. So, you should consider if the dog requires more protein to build muscles or more carbs to help it perform strenuous activities.

Your service dog’s diet will also depend on its size and breed. In any case, there are some nutrition elements that you should include in your service dog’s diet to provide it with all its needs.

Let’s check them out in detail.

1. Protein

Service Dog Nutrition All You Need to Know

Your furry friend is basically an omnivore. However, animal meat sources are crucial for their well-being, especially for service dogs who carry out demanding work.

Typically, working dogs will require additional protein in their diet. That’s because protein isn’t only for maintaining muscles, but it also helps your pup sustain its energy for longer periods.

Additionally, proteins include essential amino acids that your service friend needs to stay healthy. These amino acids are found in both animal and plant proteins.

So, if your dog is on a homemade diet, you’ll need to provide your dog with both animal and plant protein.

There are many great sources of protein for dogs. Luckily, they don’t cost a lot. A simple raw egg as a topper can provide your pup with the needed protein. Your canine friend can also have fish, poultry, and red meat.

Additionally, your furry friend can’t get its energy solely from protein. The reason is that protein takes longer to get digested and turned into calories. So, your puppy would still need a rapid energy boost from other sources.

2. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are what provide your pup with that instant kick of energy. That’s because they digest and burn rather quickly. So, your dog can get an energy boost while digesting the rest of its meal.

While some owners prefer to put their dogs on a low-carb diet, service dogs require more carbs, especially if they regularly perform exhausting tasks that require agility.

So, service dogs will likely benefit from a moderate amount of carbohydrates. Some excellent sources of carbohydrates for your canine include grains, corn, and wheat. That’s because they also contain beneficial fibers, which are essential for gut health.

Luckily, carbohydrates are readily available in your dog’s kibble. Most commercial dog food contains adequate amounts of carbs.

3. Fats

Fats are an essential part of any service dog diet. However, the amount of fat the dog needs depends on many factors, including its breed, age, overall weather conditions, and the type of activity it needs to perform.

The more activities your dog has to do, the more fat content they’ll need. That’s because fats are basically a concentrated source of energy. Moreover, in colder climates, your service animal might require more fat content to stay warm.

To add, there are two types of fat: healthy fat, and non-healthy fat. Healthy fat contains essential fatty acids, which aren’t synthesized in the body. So, your furry friend needs them in their diet.

However, you need to be careful not to include too much fat in your dog’s diet, as it can lead to obesity and other health problems.

4. Vitamins

Service Dog Nutrition: All You Need to Know

There are two types of vitamins: fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins. Your service pup needs both types of vitamins in its diet.

For starters, fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K. On the other hand, water-soluble vitamins include B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, and choline.

Most types of commercial dry food contain adequate amounts of required vitamins. So, you’ll need to check the label of the food you’re giving your dog to make sure it contains all essential vitamins.

On the other hand, if your dog is on a homemade diet, you might need to add supplements to its diet. This is just to make sure your furry friend is receiving all the vitamins it needs to stay healthy.

Otherwise, your dog might suffer from vitamin deficiencies, which can affect its health.

5. Minerals

Not only are minerals essential for your pup’s body to function properly, but they also contribute to nerve function. In other terms, minerals help your dog think better!

These minerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium, and sulfur. Other trace minerals that should be in your dog’s diet are iron, selenium, iodine, and fluorine.

Most commercial dog food already contains these minerals, so you won’t need to find other sources.

On the other hand, if you feed your dog homemade meals, you’ll need to include good sources of minerals in their diet. Rich sources of essential minerals include fish, bone meal, grains, and molasses.

6. Hydration

It’s crucial to keep fresh, clean water accessible to your dog at all times, especially in hot climates. Water is perhaps the most important part of your little friend’s diet.

To add, dogs who are more active and eat dry food require more hydration than other dogs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Service Dog Nutrition All You Need to Know

How Many Times a Day Should You Feed a Working Dog?

Most working dogs will eat 2-3 times per day. Although this may vary depending on the size and breed of your dog, a daily feeding schedule should include a good mixture of protein (around 25%), carbohydrates (10%), and fiber (5%).

In addition to their regular food, working dogs often require additional supplementation such as vitamins and minerals, water, liver oil or fish meal, glucosamine sulfate supplements for joint health, probiotics for intestinal balance support, calcium d-glucarate supplements for bone strength & density development in growing puppies/dogs, etc.

It’s important to always consult with your veterinarian before starting any new supplement regimen because each animal is unique and could respond differently to various ingredients. Also, be sure to rotate different types of foods so that your dog gets all the nutrients they need overall rather than just one type over another.

What Traits Make a Good Service Dog?

A good service dog should be enthusiastic and love to serve his or her owner. He or she should also be obedient, patient, and reliable. A good service dog is typically trained using positive reinforcement techniques such as clicker training, which helps improve behavior and trains the dog to respond positively to commands.

How much Protein Does a Working Dog Need?

Dogs need about 22-24 percent of their daily caloric needs in protein, which is equivalent to around 55 grams of protein per day. This includes both plant-based and animal-based proteins.

Should You Leave Dog Food out All Day?

This is a difficult question to answer as every dog has different dietary requirements.

However, in general, most experts believe that you should not leave food out all day long. This is because it can lead to dental problems, obesity, and starvation-related behavior issues.

Instead, feed your dog regularly throughout the day and make sure that their food bowl is full at all times.


So, what should a Service Dog Nutrition plan include? Ideally, a service dog’s diet should be rich in protein, which is important for the muscles. Additionally, carbohydrates provide your dog with energy to carry on its day-to-day tasks.

You also need to include fats in your dog’s diet, as it provides your friend with energy and essential fatty acids. On top of that, your dog requires vitamins and minerals in small amounts to stay healthy.

Finally, don’t forget to keep clean water accessible at all times to your service dog.

Elisa Steffes

Elisa Steffes

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An emotional support animal, or ESA, is an animal companion that provides comfort and support to someone suffering from a mental or emotional disability such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder or a phobia. Emotional support animals and their owners have certain protections under federal and state laws. Landlords, Co-Ops, HOAs, and other housing providers must allow tenants to live with their ESAs free of charge, even if the building has a policy banning pets.

To have a valid emotional support animal, you must be in possession of a recommendation letter from a licensed health care professional (sometimes also referred to as a “licensed mental health professional” or “LMHP”). The ESA letter will establish that you have a disability and that an emotional support animal alleviates symptoms of that disability. Under federal law, this is the only legitimate way to qualify an animal companion as an emotional support animal.

A valid ESA letter is the only documentation you need in order to qualify an emotional support animal. Landlords cannot ask for a certificate, registration, license or ID, or insist that your ESA wear a vest. These items do not confer any legal status on emotional support animals. Some ESA owners use such items as tools to signal that their animal companion is an ESA, but they are not mandatory and do not function in lieu of an ESA letter as valid forms of proof for an ESA. There is also no need to register your ESA in a database or registry.

No, ESAs do not have an automatic legal right to be in grocery stores, restaurants, and hotels that prohibit animals. ESA owners have the legal right to be accompanied by their animal companion in their home pursuant to the Fair Housing Act. Only ADA service animals trained to perform tasks (such as seeing-eye dogs for the blind) have public access rights in places like grocery stores and restaurants. Some establishments such as hotels are not obligated by law to accommodate ESAs but will do so anyway as a courtesy. It is best to check with the hotel or other businesses to see if they have a policy regarding emotional support animals.

No, ESAs are not a scam. Regrettably, there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding on the internet when it comes to emotional support animals that puts an undeserved cloud over legitimate ESA owners and service companies. Contrary to some myths, there is a developed regulatory framework surrounding emotional support animals in the United States. ESAs are protected by federal laws and government agencies which enforce those laws. There are specific legal requirements that ESA owners must adhere to in order to obtain accommodation under law for their animal companion. Legitimate owners of emotional support animals must have documentation in the form of a recommendation letter from a licensed healthcare provider. Housing providers have the right to demand an ESA letter from the tenant before accommodating an ESA request.

There are also many legitimate emotional support animal services online such as You should proceed with caution with any website that promises that their certification, registration, license or ID will immediately qualify your pet as an emotional support animal. Websites that are not scams will instead connect you to a healthcare professional who is licensed for your state. That professional will conduct an independent assessment of whether an ESA is right for you and issue an ESA letter only if they determine that you qualify. Legitimate ESA companies online cannot guarantee to instantly qualify an emotional support animal, since that determination must come from an independent licensed professional after evaluating the client.


A psychiatric service dog (or PSD) is a type of service dog that has been individually trained to perform tasks relating to a handler’s mental, emotional or learning disability. Psychiatric service dogs have the same rights as other types of service dogs which assist handlers with physical disabilities. Service dogs have special access rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Housing Act and Air Carrier Access Act. They are allowed to accompany their owners in the home, on-flights and in places where members of the public are generally allowed to go.

A psychiatric service dog is not the same thing as an ESA. The primary difference between a psychiatric service dog and an emotional support animal is that a PSD must be fully trained to perform tasks relating to a disability. A PSD in training does not yet qualify as a service dog. In contrast, ESAs are not required to have any specialized training. ESAs primarily provide comfort to their owners just through their presence and companionship. An ESA also requires a letter of recommendation from a licensed healthcare professional.

PSDs and ESAs also differ in terms of their access rights. ESAs have the right to live with their owners free of charge (even in buildings that prohibit pets) under federal Fair Housing laws and various state laws. PSDs have greater access rights under the ADA and ACAA – they can board flights as well as places generally open to the public like stores.

The other major difference between ESAs and PSDs is that an ESA can be a wide range of animals but a psychiatric service animal can only be a dog.

In order to qualify for a PSD, the handler must have a mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. That can include things like depression, anxiety, PTSD, phobias, learning disorders and autism. A licensed healthcare professional is best suited to determine whether you have a qualifying condition.

Under new rules that went into effect in January of 2021, PSDs can board the cabin free of charge as long as the handler submits the Department of Transportation’s Service Animal Transportation Form prior to boarding the flight. The form requires the handler to self-certify that their animal is a trained psychiatric service dog. It also requires information regarding the dog’s trainer (which can be the handler) and veterinarian. Only the handler is required to sign the form.

The ADA allows for service animals to be trained by the handler or through a professional. If the handler is confident and capable of training their psychiatric service dog, they are allowed to do so. It is not necessary to use any organization or professional trainer, although those alternatives may be useful for owners who are not experienced in training dogs.