Walmart offers countless products at affordable prices, including everything you could possibly need for your family’s day-to-day life. This includes items for your furrier family members, such as dog food and leashes.
So, Walmart is a great place to stock up on items for your dog, but are dogs allowed in Walmart? I had a look at the policy and did some research, and this is what I found.
Are Dogs Allowed In Walmart In 2024?
Unfortunately, dogs and other pets (cats, birds, rabbits, etc.) are not allowed into Walmart according to Walmart’s store policy. However, as per the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, service animals (not including emotional support dogs) can accompany their disabled owners into Walmart.
So, what are the laws and guidelines on taking dogs into Walmart with you?
Read on to find out everything you need to know about the policy on taking dogs into Walmart’s stores.
Why Aren’t Dogs Allowed In Walmart?
Dogs and other pets, such as cats and birds, are not allowed in Walmart, mostly due to food hygiene and safety concerns.
This has to do with the Food And Drug Administration’s (FDA) food service codes, which rule that pet animals are not allowed into places where food is prepared, including grocery stores and restaurants, for fear of contamination.
According to the FDA, taking an animal into stores such as Walmart is unsanitary and a health risk.
And there are other reasons why dogs are not allowed in Walmart. Some customers could, for example, have allergies or a fear of dogs, while some dogs could have fleas or make a mess on the floor!
Why Are Service Dogs Allowed In Walmart?
Walmart allows service dogs in-store because the company recognizes the important role they have to play in the lives of many vulnerable people, who may need the assistance of their service dogs to perform important day-to-day tasks.
Also, service dogs tend to be better trained and more well-behaved than most people’s pets. So allowing them in-store is generally thought to be safer than it would be to allow all dogs in.
What Counts As a Service Dog?
Walmart uses ADA guidelines to define a “service dog” as one that is individually trained to perform day-to-day tasks for a disabled person. The tasks that each dog performs must be directly related to its owner’s disability or disabilities to be classed as a service animal.
Are All Service Dogs Allowed In Walmart?
Yes! All service dogs are allowed in Walmart, as ruled by both the ADA and the FDA. However, there are some caveats.
For example, if the service dog is considered to be a threat to health and safety in-store, a Walmart employee or manager has the right to ask the owner and their animal to leave and to exclude them from the store indefinitely.
Can Walmart Ask If Your Dog Is A Service Dog?
Under the ADA, Walmart employees and managers are within their rights to ask someone who brings a dog into the store with them whether or not it is a service dog.
They can also ask exactly what functions and tasks the dog performs, although these are the only two lines of inquiry that are allowed. Employees and managers will not be allowed to ask for any proof of disability in the form of documentation.
However, many service dogs wear brightly colored dog tags, jackets, or leashes, which makes it easier for employees and managers to see whether or not a dog is in fact a service animal.
And in states such as California, these forms of identification are a legal requirement.
What Are The Rules On Bringing Service Dogs Into Walmart?
You can bring your service dog with you to Walmart, but you have to make sure they’re well-behaved! There are certain rules.
For starters, the owner has to be in control of the dog all the time, so the dog cannot be allowed to wander around on its own or bark too much. The dog also can’t be carried around the store in a trolley or stroller, so no treating Baxter like he’s your baby!
According to the FDA, service dogs are also not permitted in areas of the store that are used for food preparation. And, if a particular Walmart store or manager wants to designate other zones in the store as dog-free, they can.
Are Emotional Support Dogs Allowed In Walmart?
No, emotional support dogs are not allowed in Walmart because emotional support dogs are not defined as service animals under ADA guidelines. This has to do with the function that emotional support animals carry out for their owner.
Emotional support animals provide comfort to people struggling with mental health issues and help to minimize their symptoms.
While these animals will be registered by a licensed professional like service dogs are, the fact that they do not carry out practical day-to-day tasks that the owner needs help with means that they are not technically service animals.
Are Dogs Allowed In Any Grocery Stores?
According to FDA guidelines, no, you cannot take a dog with you into any grocery store in the United States unless they are a service animal.
But, while you’ll have to leave your dog behind when shopping in places like Walmart, Costco, and Target, you are allowed to take your pet dog with you into other stores!
Pet stores are (unsurprisingly) usually dog-friendly, as are some homeware stores, boutiques, and even the Apple Store.
Basically, you can take your pet dog with you into a lot of stores that do not prepare or sell food. Just keep an eye out for any “No Dog” signs before you head in.
Is It Okay To Leave Your Dog Outside Walmart?
If you have to go into Walmart (or any other store with a no-dog policy), then you can always leave your dog tied up outside. But remember that leaving your dog unattended for an extended period of time can be dangerous for the dog.
You never know how the weather might affect your dog or who might walk past them. The best solution is to leave your dog at home if you want to shop at Walmart, unless, of course, your dog is a service animal.
For all the pet lovers out there, you might also be interested in knowing if Walmart sells live fish. Additionally, if you are looking to visit other stores, you can read up on the Costco pet policy, Target pet policy, Dollar General pet policy, and Walgreens pet policy.
Yes, dogs are allowed in Walmart as well as other grocery stores. But the longer answer is that only service dogs are actually allowed to accompany owners in-store, because the FDA and ADA rule that pet dogs pose a risk to health, safety, and hygiene, particularly in food preparation areas.
If you do take your service dog into Walmart with you, be aware that employees may ask you what you need it for, or to leave the store if your dog is badly behaved.