Are Dogs Allowed in Whole Foods? Whole Foods Pet Policy Explained (Updated for 2022)

An image showing that pet dogs are not allowed in Whole Foods. A red "not allowed" sign over a cartoon dog. The Whole Foods Market logo. The backdrop is a grocery aisle.

We all love going shopping at Whole Foods. It’s a great grocery store with a loyal customer base. The benefits of the store include a clean, pleasant shopping environment and wide assortment of quality products.

One thing that you might not know is whether this awesome store allows dogs. Taking your dog on a shopping trip could make the trip a lot more fun, but is it actually allowed?

Per Whole Foods official policy, dogs are not allowed in the store. They have a No-Pets Policy that applies to dogs. Whole Foods is not a pet-friendly store.

However, there’s more to know than just that. If you find yourself asking: “does Whole Foods allow dogs?”, you are certainly in the right place. We’re going to dive into the Whole Foods pet policy and give you a tip to show you how to bring your dog to Whole Foods.

Whole Foods Pet Policy Explained

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, let’s learn some more about this policy, how it’s enforced, and why it is in place. We’ll also touch base on which Whole Foods Market stores adhere to this policy to prevent a health code violation.

Whole Foods has issued guidance that they do not allow pets in their stores.

Image showing Whole Foods pet policy guidance. Text says: "In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Whole Foods Market welcomes all Service Animals. Our "No Pets" policy does not apply to Service Animals.

As you can see from this image, Whole Foods has a no-pet policy that includes dogs. There are a variety of reasons for the policy, but the short version is that Whole Foods doesn’t want to open up themselves the liability that comes with being a pet-friendly store.

Of course, there are exceptions to the no-animal policy. As you can see from the photo, Whole Foods allows service dogs and service animals, in accordance with ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act). In that way, Whole Foods is service dog-friendly and can make accommodations for those who must bring their dog to Whole Foods.

What Kind of Dogs Are Allowed in Whole Foods?

Image of a dog in front of a Whole Foods Market.

As you might have guessed, not all dogs are treated the same at Whole Foods. Some types of animals are allowed while others are prohibited. It all depends on the purpose and responsibilities of your dog. The question: “is Whole Foods dog-friendly?” might seem simple, but actually has several different components that must be examined.

Let’s dive in to the types of dogs and whether they are allowed in Whole Foods.


Image of a dog inside a Whole Foods Market shopping cart.

This is undoubtedly the most common type of dog or animal that shoppers will want to bring into Whole Foods. However, it is also the most prohibited. Per official Whole Foods’ pet policy, dogs are not allowed in the store for a variety of reasons.

This means dogs, cats, and other non-service animals that are considered to be pets. By all means, Whole Foods is not a pet-friendly store and does not welcome pets inside the store.

Emotional Support Animals

A group of animals that has a tendency to fall within the “gray area” for pet policies is Emotional Support Animals. Emotional Support Animals, or ESAs, are not certified or official service dogs.

Instead, these are animals that are often used to provide emotional support and comfort to an individual. These might be used by someone that experiences severe anxiety or similar conditions. Emotional support animals are not considered to be service dogs, and are thus not permitted inside Whole Foods.

Many people try to bring their animal inside Whole Foods under the guise of being an emotional support animal. Whole Foods employees may not fight you on it, but they are still technically prohibited.

Service Dogs

As for Service Dogs, Whole Foods welcomes dogs of this kind into their stores. As is the case with most retail stores, Whole Foods is required to allow working animals and service dogs in their stores.

Per the ADA, stores are required to accommodate those with disabilities and the need for service animals.

Whole Foods has said that its “No-Pet Policy” makes an exception for “service dogs and guide dogs”, so you should be permitted with no issue to Whole Foods with a dog that fits this definition.

Guide Dogs

Along with service dogs, guide dogs are some of the only animals allowed in Whole Foods. Whole Foods makes an exception to its “No-Pet Policy” for guide dogs.

Guide dogs are trained to perform a specific task and can help disabled individuals navigate the store. This sets them apart from regular pet dogs and other pets that people might try to bring into the store.

What Whole Foods Employees Say…

At PetFriendlyBook, we’re a bit different. We like to report on what the official policy of any given retail store is, but as we all know, there’s official policy and there’s unofficial policy. Unofficial policy tells us what will be tolerated, despite what the company provides as its “official policy”.

So, we’ve gathered testimonials from Whole Foods employees to see what they have to say on the matter. With input from these employees, you’ll be able to gauge whether bringing dogs into the store is an activity that will get you removed from the store, or just scolded at. Let’s dive in…

“I think Leadership is too scared due to discrimination lawsuits?

The only time Leadership will say anything at my store is if they put the dog in a cart. It’s considered a health hazard.”

-Anonymous Whole Foods Employee

“…the only questions you can legally are ask are “are they a service animal” and “what work or task are they trained to perform”. Sadly people that want to bring in non service animals know this and just make up answers”

-Anonymous Whole Foods Employee

“One time the head of security there told a female customer to never bring her dog there again. The dog was jumpy, trying to lunge at people, and loudly barking nearly the whole time in there. She was furious saying it’s a service dog and that she will call corporate to get him fired. He told her “If that’s a service dog then you better take it back to training school because it obviously failed!” Yes, he still works there.”

-Anonymous Whole Foods Employee

As you can see, it’s a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to what Whole Foods employees will allow or tolerate.

Now, just because you can get away with something, it doesn’t mean that you should try. Look, bringing your dog into the store is great. But it’s not so great if the store doesn’t want you do to it. They might tolerate it because it’s easier to not bother you, but the policy is in place for a reason.

So, even if think that you can sneak your dog into the store or claim that it’s a support animal and get away with it, consider that the store has policies like this in place to help protect its guests. And also, don’t harass store employees. Nothing will get you a permanent ban faster than that, and it’s just the wrong thing to do.

Pet-Friendly Areas at Whole Foods

Showing a dog in the outdoor area shopping cart of Whole Foods.

Despite all of this information and the fact that Whole Foods does not have a pet-friendly policy, you’ll be happy to know that there are ways to bring your dog to Whole Foods. The pet policy applies to the area inside the store.

However, a great thing about Whole Foods is that the store often has outdoor seating areas. In these areas, you can bring your dog. So, if you want to enjoy a coffee or quick bite to eat while your partners shops, you can bring your dog and take in the fresh air in the outdoor seating area.

Why Doesn’t Whole Foods Allow Dogs?

Though you might be bummed out by the fact that Whole Foods doesn’t allow pets and dogs in its stores, there are plenty of good reasons for the policy. Here are some of the reasons for the policy!


There are a lot of people who are scared of dogs, and with good reason. Dogs can be unpredictable, and even the sweetest dog might bite if it feels scared or threatened.

In addition, not everyone is comfortable around animals. Some people have allergies to pets, which can range from mild to severe.

For these reasons, it’s generally best to err on the side of caution and not allow pets in places where they might make other people uncomfortable.


Another reason for the Whole Foods pet policy is hygiene. Pets can tracking in all sorts of dirt and bacteria from outside. For a store that makes it its mission to sell food, it must permit only service dogs to be in compliance with federal and local regulations.

Even if your dog is well-groomed and clean, it’s still possible for them to track in germs that could make people sick. In addition, pets can also be a source of fleas and ticks, which no one wants to deal with.

Customer Experience

Shopping cart at Whole Foods market with a dog inside.

As with most things in the corporate world, it just comes down to simple dollars and cents. The higher-ups at corporate have clearly crunched the numbers and decided that it’s just not worth sacrificing the customer experience to allow dogs.

Allowing dogs inside the store opens up all sorts of potentially negative experiences for customers. They could have an allergic reaction, be bitten by a dog, or simply be afraid of dogs.

Opening the store up to liability and the potential for something to go wrong is bad business, and that’s one of the main reasons for the Whole Foods pet policy.

Let’s Recap the Whole Foods Pet Policy

No, Whole Foods is not a pet-friendly grocery store. There are few pet-friendly grocery stores out there, and to allow pets in a store like this would be a violation of several health code violations.

The official stance of Whole Foods is that pets are not allowed inside the store, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring your dog to the store. There are outdoor seating options that you can sit and wait at or enjoy a coffee and a quick bite to eat!

Whole Foods Pet Policy FAQ

Yes, Whole Foods employees are within their rights to ask you to leave if you break company policy. Security would likely get involved and ask you to leave the store if you don’t comply with the initial request.

Whole Foods employees are allowed to ask things like “what is your dog trained to do”, but usually won’t outright ask if it is a service dog. Some dog owners have made up responses, but it’s best to not be dishonest.

Bringing a small dog in a stroller or purse is certainly stealthy, but it’s technically not allowed according to the Whole Foods Pet Policy. However, employees are not likely to bother you about it if your dog is very small and not barking at people or causing other disruptions. This could depend on which Whole Food market you choose go enter.

Some people have reported success with bringing their small dog to stores like Whole Foods grocery stores, but others have reported being asked to leave due to the no dogs allowed policy.

No, the Whole Foods pet policy is a corporate policy, which means that it applies to all Whole Foods locations. However, you might find that store managers are more or less lenient based on which location they oversee. Pet owners or a dog owner is typically not allowed to bring their pet into a Whole Foods grocery store.

Stores in NYC tend to be more pet-friendly than stores in other areas, but the policy for Whole Foods Markets in NYC is the same as it is for their Whole Foods Stores around the rest of the country. The Whole Foods dog policy is meant to be a universal policy for Whole Food stores, not just one that applies to your local Whole Foods.

No, Whole Foods is not animal-friendly. They have a strict no pets policy. The store only allows service animals. 

Pet Friendly Report Card for Whole Foods

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Editorial Staff
Author: Editorial Staff