Are Dogs Allowed in Whole Foods? Things to Know

Pet Care


June 4, 2023

It’s not uncommon for pet parents to want to bring their pets with them when they go out and run errands, including going to the grocery store.

The thing is, while more and more stores are becoming pet-friendly, stores that sell food to the public generally do not allow pets, mostly for reasons related to sanitation.

Because of this, the Whole Foods stores across the country have a strict no-pet policy, with the only exception being service dogs. If your errands include going to Whole Foods, make sure that you leave your furry family member at home.

Are Dogs Allowed in Whole Foods?

Dogs are not allowed in Whole Foods, nor are any other types of animals. Neither grocery stores nor restaurants allow dogs or other animals in their facilities, and it’s mostly because they are selling food there.

But while service dogs are permitted in these stores in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), keep in mind that emotional support animals do not fall in that category.

Service dogs accommodate multiple functions for various types of disabilities, but you should also know that if a person comes into Whole Foods with a service animal, the employees of the store are not allowed to ask the owner of the dog if they are, in fact, a service animal. It will be assumed that the dog is a service animal, which is accommodating for both the dog and the owner.

If you are in a Whole Foods store and you notice a service animal, it’s best not to touch or pet them, at least not without the permission of the owner. This is because service animals are there to do a job and they have been trained well for that job.

In order to concentrate on their job only, the owner may not want you interacting with the dog in any way and it’s best to respect their decision.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

To some, the Whole Foods pet policy may sound harsh, but it’s the FDA that sets these policies. According to the FDA, if the store has food that is being cooked or sold, no pets are allowed.

Many Whole Foods stores have outside tables that are pet-friendly, but as a general rule, you cannot bring any type of animal into one of these stores unless it is a service animal.

If you’re visiting a store other than Whole Foods, especially if it is not a store that sells or makes food, you can contact them to learn what their pet policy is. More and more facilities are allowing their customers to bring their pets with them, and besides, there’s no harm in asking.

Are There Other Reasons Why They Don’t Allow Dogs?

Even if other factors never came into play, the fact is that federal, state, and local laws prohibit dogs or any other animal from being inside of a facility that sells food items or serves food. Nevertheless, there are other reasons why stores, including Whole Foods, do not allow dogs inside of their facility. They can be summed in this way: safety and hygiene.

Many people are allergic to certain animals, and their reactions can be either mild or severe. It simply isn’t fair to bring animals into the public because of this reason. In addition, many people are afraid of animals or simply do not like them. Stores usually feel that in order for all shoppers to have a pleasant shopping experience, it’s much easier to ban all animals from entering.

Even dogs who are usually gentle and who are well-trained can become scared or startled and can bite or bark at someone because they feel threatened. This could wreak havoc on the entire store. Finally, dogs can inadvertently track in dirt and bacteria when they enter the store, and it is very possible that this can make some of the people in the store sick.

Are All Service Dogs Allowed in Whole Foods?

As a general rule, service dogs are allowed to be in Whole Foods under federal law. But as with other rules, this one has exceptions. Even people with service dogs may be asked to leave if the dog becomes unruly or starts trying to bite or attack others.

Because of the potential lawsuits possible when things such as this happen, store managers will very likely ask the owner of the dog to leave.

Fortunately, this rarely happens with service dogs. These dogs are professional and very well-trained, and they are extremely unlikely to cause any trouble.

Nevertheless, it is perfectly within the store management’s right to make someone leave if their dog isn’t behaving properly. This also applies to any stores that do allow you to bring your pets.

The bottom line is that you should never assume that the store you’re getting ready to visit is pet-friendly. There are good reasons for stores not allowing pets of any kind in their facility, so it might be best if you just assume that you cannot bring your dog into a store.


Dogs are not allowed in Whole Foods, mostly because places that sell or prepare food are never allowed to have any type of animal inside of the facility.

The only exception to this rule is a service dog, but keep in mind that Whole Foods does not consider emotional support animals (ESAs) service dogs and they are therefore not allowed in the store.

In many of the 500+ Whole Foods stores in the country, they do have outside tables that are pet-friendly, but the store itself is not.