top of page

Dog-friendly patio rules across Canada every dog owner should know about

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

When it comes to enjoying a meal on a patio with your furry friend, the regulations vary across Canadian provinces. Here's a breakdown of the dog-friendly patio regulations in 4 Canadian provinces:

White fluffy dog sitting at a cafe's dog-friendly patio. There is coffee and baked goods on the table.

Featured pup: @georgiekits

British Columbia's dog-friendly patio rules

In British Columbia, operators of food service establishments have a duty to accommodate individuals with disabilities who require guide or service dogs, irrespective of formal certification. The B.C. Human Rights Code protects people with disabilities who rely on guide and service dogs, even if the animal is not certified. However, the policy regarding pet dogs on outdoor dining areas does not extend to guide and service dogs. While an operator may permit an animal on the premises, it must be determined by an Environmental Health Officer (EHO) that the animal does not pose a health hazard. Other jurisdictions, such as New York City and the State of California, serve as models for B.C. in terms of allowing pet dogs in outdoor dining areas.

Policy on Pet Dogs on Outdoor Dining Areas:

By following these procedures, an operator is likely to avoid causing a health hazard and can generally comply with their obligations under the Food Premises Regulation. Before allowing pet dogs into an outdoor dining area, an operator must:

1. Update the establishment’s sanitation plan to reflect an operator’s responsibilities around sanitation procedures. The plan must be submitted to and approved by an EHO before pet dogs are allowed into outdoor dining areas.

2. Ensure food or drinks are not prepared, nor any utensils stored, in the outdoor dining areas.

3. Provide a separate entrance where a pet dog can enter without going through any indoor areas of the establishment to reach the outdoor dining area.

4. Ensure a pet dog is under the control of its owner using a leash, harness or carrier and kept at ground level at all times. In addition, the operator should post a sign at the entrance to the outdoor dining area, stating, “Dogs are permitted in outdoor dining areas and owners are responsible for controlling their dogs at all times”.

5. Ensure a pet dog does not eat or drink from the establishment’s reusable dishware or utensils.

6. Ensure surfaces that have been contaminated by animal waste (e.g., feces, urine or vomit) or other by-product are cleaned and sanitized immediately by staff of the establishment in an area separate from the establishment’s dishwashing area.

7. Require any employee who comes into contact with a pet dog, its accessories, serving containers for the pet dog or animal waste wash their hands before undertaking any of their regular work duties. An employee’s hygiene instructions must address hand washing after handling or dealing with a pet. 8. Ensure employee clothing is free of dog dander, fur or body fluids. Operators should familiarize themselves with local bylaws, where applicable, that limit certain breeds of dog from being in public without a muzzle or prohibit pets on outdoor dining areas.

Source for BC rules

Alberta's dog-friendly patio rules

As of May 25, 2022, amendments to the Food Regulation in Alberta grant food establishment operators the choice to allow patrons' dogs on outdoor eating areas, including patios, without requiring approval from a public health inspector. Operators must still adhere to the Food Regulation and comply with local municipal bylaws regarding dogs. Operators do not need approval from Alberta Health Services to permit dogs on patios, as long as the dog accesses the patio without entering an interior food handling area. Dogs must be under physical control at all times, using a leash, carrier, or other restraint.

Source for AB rules

Ontario's dog-friendly patio rules

In Ontario, amendments made to the Health Protection and Promotion Act on January 1, 2020, have relaxed restrictions on dogs being allowed on patios and certain indoor food premises, such as craft breweries. The specific rules and regulations outlined in this Act state that dogs are allowed in outdoor eating areas of food service premises as long as food is not being prepared in that specific area. Dogs are also allowed in indoor eating areas of food service premises if only low-risk food items are being prepared, and if the dogs are in a separate room where only low-risk or pre-packaged, ready-to-eat food items are served. However, no food manufacturing, processing, or preparation can take place in that room. Dogs are only permitted on patios and in restaurants that have leash-friendly railings nearby.

Source 1 for ON rules
Source 2 for ON rules

Quebec's dog-friendly patio rules

Information about dog-friendly patio regulations in Quebec is limited. According to a spokesperson from Quebec's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food, pets are generally allowed on patios as long as they stay out of the kitchen area, and dishes remain separate.

Information obtained from a spokesperson from Quebec's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food via a Global News article.

Please note that these regulations may be subject to change, so it's always a good idea to verify the current guidelines with local authorities or the respective provincial departments responsible for health and food safety. And remember, although the rules are set by the provincial government, dog-friendly businesses still have a choice on whether or not they want to allow dogs. It's always a good idea to use free apps like GoDoggo to find out if your dog can actually come.


More about GoDoggo:

GoDoggo, dog-friendly map app screenshot

GoDoggo is your ultimate dog-friendly city guide, making planning days out with your pup easier than ever. With 18 different categories ranging from restaurants, coffee shops, breweries to shopping, attractions, gyms, hikes and trails, the app helps dog owners discover and explore places based on their location, read and leave reviews from the perspective of dog owners, and learn more about the dog-friendliness of each location. Soon, the app will also have dog-friendly events. Download the app here.


bottom of page