PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Bryan Russo, a Jackson Hewitt tax preparer, says he’s noticed more taxpayers these days asking about deducting their pet expenses.

“Yes, we do. You see it because veterinary bills have risen. It’s very expensive to keep a dog, they’re living longer, and it’s costing more, or a pet of any kind,” Russo told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.

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Pet owners agree.

“Most expensive dog in the world,” Jennifer Johnston of Dormont described her dog. “She’s allergic to everything.”

And owners spend a lot of money on their pets — pet surgery alone, sometimes.

“I would say … $1,000, at least,” said John Farabaugh of Bethel Park.

With that kind of expense, it’s no surprise the tax question comes up.

“People have tried to take pets as dependents, which is not going to work in any case,” said Certified Public Accountant Bob Grossman.

Grossman says people’s tax burden leads them to test all kinds of unusual deductions, including pet expenses.

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“It does not surprise me only because again the tax challenge to the average individual is so substantial that anything legitimate they’re struggling to get on to their tax returns,” he added.

If you spend hundreds of dollars on that pet of yours, it’s natural to ask, is it tax deductible?

The quick answer is no, but not so fast. There are exceptions to the rule.

Obviously, service dogs for the visually impaired may earn a tax break — but what about a doctor-prescribed therapy dog that provides mental comfort or physical rehab to a person?

“If that’s any part of the therapy or the rehabilitation process, then I think you could at least make a good argument,” noted Grossman.

And if the animal is used in a business, a show-dog, in advertising — or a watchdog for a business, then check with a tax preparer.

“The dog needs fed, the dog needs veterinary services, in that case, it can be deductible,” added Russo.

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