This is a question I hear a lot. To me the answer seems kinda simple - just talk to your doctor about it. But I think some people find it really difficult to talk to their docs about things. Some people feel more intimidated by their health care providers than I do.
And despite my anxiety related to medical stuff, I am not generally intimidated or afraid to talk to my health care providers about things. If something is on my mind, I bring it up. I call some of my doctors by their first names. I talk to them like people. I expect them to talk to me the same way.
But if you feel worried about talking to your doctor about a service dog or aren't sure how to bring it up, well, how do you bring it up?
In order to have a service dog, you have to be disabled. If you're not sure if you're disabled or not, you need to talk to your doctor about that.
It might seem like you'd know if you were disabled or not, but the question isn't always as easy as it sounds. If you are on Social Security Disability Insurance and have been for 10 years, like I was when I got Isaac, well, you're probably pretty certain you are disabled. But many people are able to work but are still disabled under the definition used by the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is the definition you need to meet in order to qualify for a service dog. You need to be substantially limited with regard to one or more major life activity, like seeing, hearing, communication, walking, thinking, etc. So you could be totally blind and work full time in all sorts of jobs and still qualify as disabled and be able to have a service dog. You could use a wheelchair and be unable to walk at all but still work full time in all sorts of jobs and still be considered disabled and qualify for a service dog. Make sense?
But if someone is not blind and is able to walk, they might not be so certain if they are disabled or not. At what point does PTSD or a seizure disorder or chronic pain become disabling? If you're not sure, you need to talk to your doctor.
Tell your doctor why you're asking and, if your doctor doesn't know, let them know how disability is defined under the ADA. And just ask if they consider you disabled.
Like this. "Hey, Doc. I've been reading about service dogs and I was wondering if I might benefit from one. I would need to be disabled in order to qualify, though. The ADA defines disability as substantially limited with regard to one or more major life activity,
like seeing, hearing, communication, walking, thinking, etc. Do you think that applies to me?"
If your doctor does consider you disabled, tell them you've been wondering if a service dog might help you and ask what they think. You might need to provide a little information because some docs don't know much about service dogs and all the ways they can help. For instance, my psychiatrist had never heard of a service dog for PTSD before. But when I told him the things I wanted my dog to be trained to do for me, he thought that would be a great idea.
So say something like this. "Hey, Doc. I've been reading about service dogs for (insert your disability here). I was thinking one might help me. I've learned they can be trained to do things like (insert some things a dog could do for you here). What do you think?"