The guidelines are the first comprehensive consensus report on veterinary healthcare recommendations for working, assistance, and therapy dogs. This category of canine patients includes a broad assortment of animals, some with well-defined functions and others that provide a more generalized support role. The guidelines discuss recommendations for dogs trained for protection, odor/scent detection, service functions for people with diagnosed disabilities or physical limitations, emotional support, and therapeutic intervention. Although the term is often used to describe dogs providing animal-assisted activities, true therapy dogs provide goal-directed therapy, often under the supervision of a healthcare professional such as an occupational therapist or psychologist. Many working dogs undergo extensive training and have rigorous physical demands placed upon them. These factors make working, assistance, and therapy dogs inherently valuable and impose a need for a high level of primary veterinary care as described in the guidelines. Because working dogs have a particularly close relationship with their handlers, a trust relationship between the practice team and the working-dog client is imperative.

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