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Dogs on Patios


The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection indicates that dogs are allowed in outside seating areas of restaurants with an approved variance. This requirement is in effect until October 25th when an updated Wisconsin Food Code will be in place. The new Food Code allows dogs in outdoor seating areas of restaurants without a variance when requirements are followed. New requirements can be found here on page 223.

Until October 25th, variances will still be required to allow dogs in outdoor seating areas. With a variance, these requirements need to be followed.

Dogs on Patios

  • Applies to dogs only.
  • Applies to the exterior areas of outdoor dining of a restaurant only. Dogs are not allowed in the interior portions of the restaurant.
  • A separate entrance is present where pets do not enter through the food establishment to reach the outdoor dining area.
  • No food preparation shall be allowed at the outdoor dining area, including the dispensing/mixing of drinks and ice.
  • Customer multi-use or reusable utensils such as plates, silverware, glasses and bowls shall not be stored, displayed or pre-set at the outdoor dining area.
  • Food from the restaurant shall not be served to pets on the exterior portions of the outdoor dining areas of a restaurant. However, food provided by the dog owner for consumption by the dog on the premise of the restaurant shall be provided in single-use disposable containers and/or water provided by the restaurant shall be provided in single-use disposable containers.
  • Employees shall be prohibited from having direct contact with pets while on duty.
  • Pets shall not be allowed on chairs, seats, benches, and tables.
  • The exterior areas of outdoor dining areas of a restaurant shall be maintained clean at all times.
  • In cases where excrement or other bodily fluids (urine, saliva, and vomit) are deposited, an employee shall immediately clean and sanitize the affected areas.

If you would like to obtain a variance, contact your inspector. Keep in mind, you won’t need a variance after October 25, 2020.

If you are considering allowing dogs on outdoor patio areas, WRA suggests you contact your insurance company to find out if they have any restrictions or concerns.

Questions? Ask WRA