Service dogs at medical appointments 1


I take my service dogs to all my medical appointments including blood draws, emergency rooms, dentists, hospitals, and even surgery!

Under the ADA, they are allowed in non-sterile areas. If you are allowed to wear your street shoes, it isn’t sterile! When doing things like getting stitches, they do create a sterile field– this is a small area that is sterile, and does not preclude your service dog from being in the room. They can deny access from the actual surgical suite, but not from pre- and post-op recovery rooms.

When I’ve had surgery, at my pre-surgery appointment I bring information about the ADA laws and from the Centers for Disease Control just in case they have questions. I explain how I need my dog before and after the surgery (making sure to emphasize how much less work I will be for the nurses with my dog to help me!), and that during the surgery my husband will hold my service dog. They usually allow him to bring my dog back to recovery when I start to wake up.

During some procedures that cause me anxiety (like dental exams), I have my service dog lie on top of me to provide pressure therapy. This is possible even with a large breed service dog, though it is easier with a small one!

Below are pictures and a video of me with my service dogs in various medical settings over the years. Please leave any questions you might have in the comments!

Veronica in a dentist's office wearing a bib and sitting in the dental chair.  Hestia, a 9 lb black and white dog, sits in her lap.
Veronica in a dentist’s office wearing a bib and sitting in the dental chair. Hestia, a 9 lb black and white dog, sits in her lap.
A dental technician is in the process of cleaning Veronica's teeth.  Veronica is reclined back in the dental chair, and Hestia is lying on her lap.
A dental technician is in the process of cleaning Veronica’s teeth. Veronica is reclined back in the dental chair, and Hestia is lying on her lap.
Veronica sits in a blood draw chair with Hestia on her lap.  A technician is in the process of drawing blood.
Veronica sits in a blood draw chair with Hestia on her lap. A technician is in the process of drawing blood.
A side view of another trip to get blood drawn, with Hestia in Veronica's lap while the technician draws blood.
A side view of another trip to get blood drawn, with Hestia in Veronica’s lap while the technician draws blood.
Veronica in the emergency room in an ER wheelchair, with Hestia on her lap.
Veronica in the emergency room in an ER wheelchair, with Hestia on her lap.
Veronica stands while getting a procedure done, perhaps an X-ray or some other look at her chest.  She has to hold onto a bar above her head with both arms.  You can see Hestia's head from the camera angle-- she is sitting on Brad's lap across the room.
Veronica stands while getting a procedure done, perhaps an X-ray or some other look at her chest. She has to hold onto a bar above her head with both arms. You can see Hestia’s head from the camera angle– she is sitting on Brad’s lap across the room.
Veronica smiles over her shoulder during an appointment with her nurse practitioner.  Hestia lies on Veronica's lap.
Veronica smiles over her shoulder during an appointment with her nurse practitioner. Hestia lies on Veronica’s lap.
Veronica winces and looks away as a doctor gives her stitches in her finger.  Hestia is on her lap, overlooking the sterile field.
Veronica winces and looks away as a doctor gives her stitches in her finger. Hestia is on her lap, overlooking the sterile field.
This is a different angle of the same shot.  In this picture you can see that Hestia is about a foot away from the sterile field while on Veronica's lap.
This is a different angle of the same shot. In this picture you can see that Hestia is about a foot away from the sterile field while on Veronica’s lap.
65 pound poodle Ollie lies on Veronica's lap while she is in the dentist's chair.
65 pound poodle Ollie lies on Veronica’s lap while she is in the dentist’s chair.
A shot of Ollie on Veronica's lap at the dentist taken from behind Veronica's head.
A shot of Ollie on Veronica’s lap at the dentist taken from behind Veronica’s head.
A video of Ollie and me on a gurney being wheeled through the hospital.
CONTENT WARNING: This is a video of Ollie helping Veronica in the ER after Veronica overdosed and attempted suicide.

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One thought on “Service dogs at medical appointments

  • christine Wildman

    Ali illustrates exactly how Gabriel would lay with me on the gurney and the emergency Room or on a recliner in physical therapy when I do my arm exercises.

    He never had to lay with me in the dentist office because I didn’t have anxiety there so he would lie in the corner and take a little nap. But I’m certain that if I had had Ang ciety and the dentist office, Gabriel would have laid right between my legs with his head on my hip!

    Thank you for being so transparent and helping others get an idea of how service dogs can fit into medical events!