Safety Considerations for Pet-Friendly Restaurants, Bars and Cafés

Having a pet-friendly outdoor space at your restaurant, bar or café is sure to delight pet parents and hopefully keep them coming back for more. To make sure they have a great experience, along with pet-friendly features, be sure to consider the following safety considerations.


  • It’s fun to offer a “pet menu” or special treat for visiting pets, but keep in mind that dogs can be sensitive to shifts from their normal diet or may have allergies.
  • There are also many human foods that are dangerous or even toxic for pets, including chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, chives, avocado, bones, some nuts and alcohol. Check this ASPCA list to learn more.
  • If you do serve items to pets, choose items that can be given directly to the pet by the pet parent. Placing a bowl or plate of food on the ground could cause an issue if there are other dogs nearby that also want it.


  • Evaluate the safety of your space at pet-height. Are there any exposed hazards or sharp edges that might be a danger for them?
  • Avoid decorations that have small or dangling parts that might look like a toy to pets and could be chewed on or swallowed.
  • Keep cords off the ground so they’re out of reach of pets, or use outlet covers and cord protectors.
  • Consider flameless candles if candlelight is part of your ambiance. You won’t have to worry about spilled wax or fire if they get knocked over by people or pets.
  • If you have TVs, music or live performances, make sure the volume isn’t so loud that it might upset or scare pets.
  • Be conscious of heat and sun and how it might affect your human and pet visitors. Asphalt and concrete especially can quickly burn pets’ paws. Mitigate heat with shade and access to water.


  • Choose pet-safe cleaners for your business. Be sure these items are inaccessible to visiting pets.
  • Make sure garbage bins are secure and can’t be accessed by curious pets.
  • Consider offering a paw-cleaning station at entrances to help prevent muddy or wet floor surfaces that could contribute to falls.


  • Be sure all plants at your business are safe for pets. Check this ASPCA list of toxic and non-toxic plants to make pet-friendly choices. 
  • Always mark any outdoor areas that have recently been treated with pesticides or fertilizers, since these can be toxic for pets.

Emergency readiness

  • Consider having extra leashes on hand in case of emergency need.
  • Make pets part of your business’s emergency evacuation plan.
  • Alert first responders about pets in the area during any emergency situation.
  • See more emergency considerations here.

Want more tips? Check out the Pets on Patios Toolkit for tips to help cities, business and pet parents make outdoor dining pet friendly.

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