US Restaurants are Going Dog-Friendly

Take your pooch out to eat!

May 31, 2023


Pet, Community
US Restaurants are Going Dog-Friendly | Take your pooch out to eat!

Now that the weather is getting warmer, its time to explore outdoor dining at restaurants. So grab the leash and take your fur baby with you to your favorite eatery. You won’t even have to take a doggy bag home.

Many states in the US have been allowing dogs in outside dining areas for years – only service dogs are allowed inside – but there have been no uniform laws or regulations regarding the practice, reported AP News. Now, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated its food code to allow dogs in outdoor seating at restaurants.

Interest is soaring
There is an uptick in interest in dining options that allow dogs. In fact, Yelp searches for eateries with the “Dogs Allowed” filter has jumped 58 percent from May 2021 to May 2023.

“Younger pet owners, Millennials and Generation Z, have incredibly strong bonds with their pets and they are willing to act upon that,” Steven Feldman, president of the Human Animal Bond Research Institute told AP. “They are more likely to frequent — and express a preference for — pet-friendly businesses.”

Some restaurants are very dog friendly. Diners at Zazie, a San Francisco neighborhood bistro receive a discount on wine on Mondays if they bring their dogs. The pooches are given treats that were donated by a nearby pet store.

“It’s great for business. People really enjoy bringing their dog out with them,” said Megan Cornelius, Zazie’s co-owner.

Other restaurants not so much. The Salty Dog Café in Hilton Head, South Carolina initially allowed dogs on the patio but changed its policy two years later. There were problems with barking dogs, fighting, and some sneaky pooches stealing food from children’s plates, said Tim Stearns, the Salty Dog’s CEO.

“We are all dog lovers at Salty Dog, but we remain a restaurant for humans,” Stearns said.

The new code
In 2020, after there was an uptick in people bringing their pooches with them when they dine, the Conference for Food Protection (an advisory group of food and health experts) asked the FDA to issue guidance for states that wanted a clear policy.

The food code that was issued in 2022 said that restaurants could allow dogs in outside areas if approved by local regulators, a sign saying that dogs are welcome must be posted, and a plan has to be developed to handle the dogs and dog waste, according to Axios.

But that doesn’t mean that you and your best friend can dine off the same plate. Dogs can only be served with disposable food and water bowls.

If the restaurant allows dogs, it cannot discriminate  against breeds, provided the dog is socialized and behaves. Cats and other pets are still not allowed.

But this is not the FDA saying that restaurants must allow dogs because it is up to the individual eatery to decide.

“This was [the] FDA's effort to suggest that there's not a concern about overall food sanitation and safety if you have a pet dog in an outdoor area,”  Whitt Steineker, a food-and-beverage lawyer in Birmingham, Alabama, told Axios.

Knowing that you can take your dog for a walk and being able to grab a bite to eat at the same time, is more than just convenience for some, it’s a way to spend time with their furry family members. It's also good for establishments that are dog-friendly.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.