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Are Dogs Allowed in Walmart? 2024 Pet Policy & FAQ

Written by: Chris Dinesen Rogers

Last Updated on April 25, 2024 by Dogster Team

shopping in a supermarket

Are Dogs Allowed in Walmart? 2024 Pet Policy & FAQ

Our pets are our constant companions. Just ask any of the 69 million American households with at least one dog.1 We want our pets by our side, whether we’re going on vacation or to the coffee shop to get a latte. However, it’s more of a minefield when it comes to stores. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mom-and-pop shop or a big-box retailer. Unfortunately, as far as Walmart is concerned, you must leave Fido in the car.

It’s an interesting but not surprising impasse. Walmart wants to be your one-stop store. However, that comes at a price with the growing pet humanization trend in the industry staring it in the face. Remember that many people consider their dogs family members. It’s no wonder that shoppers would want to bring them along with the kids. However, the situation is a bit more complicated.

Dogs and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)2 of 2010 protects individuals with these conditions from discrimination in public places. It supersedes other state or local laws. If an establishment is open to the public, it must be the same for these people. A retailer, even Walmart, can’t prohibit someone with a service animal from entering their business.

Service animals are a godsend for these individuals. They allow them to live normal lives, albeit with an assistant to help them with everyday tasks. While owners certainly love their dogs, they are not necessarily pets as we think of them; they are much more. The federal act is quite specific in its definitions of a service animal and its function.

The ADA includes common-sense provisions about an animal being housebroken and under control. Those seem like moot points with a dog as highly trained as these canines. The ADA also protects disabled individuals from medical requests. They cannot be denied service regardless of if an employee has a fear of dogs or an allergy. It’s worth noting the regulations now include miniature horses, too.

woman in wheelchair with the assistance of a trained dog buying groceries at the market
Image Credit: Jose Luis Stephens, Shutterstock

Dogs and Food Service

The real barrier to retailers like Walmart, Target, and Costco is food service. The advent of Super Walmarts has put them under the umbrella of the FDA food code. There are also state health regulations these businesses must follow. It may seem like a disconnect for Target to have such a prominent dog mascot. However, the companies aren’t being the bad guys—it’s the law.

It’s just like going to a restaurant. You can’t bring your pup into your local hangout, nor can you take them to a place like Walmart that sells food and may also have indoor dining. The good news is that some states allow you to bring a dog to an establishment if it has outdoor seating. If that applies to your local Walmart, you can ask the store manager if you can have lunch with your canine BFF.

Other Dog-Friendly Retailers

Petsmart store
Image Credit: Mike Mozart, CC BY 2.0), Wikimedia Commons

We’d be remiss if we didn’t let you know about dog-friendly businesses in case you want to go shopping with your pup. You’ll notice that none sell fresh food. Also, you should check with the individual store manager. Some retailers may not allow dogs regardless of what others in their company permit. Some businesses that welcome pets include the following:

  • PetSmart
  • Petco
  • Barnes and Noble
  • Ace Hardware
  • Cabelas
  • Bass Pro Shops

Dog-friendly businesses that allow their employees to bring their pets to work include Tito’s Vodka, Mars, and Bissell Homecare. If they’re lucky, your pup may even score some treats!

Final Thoughts

While we understand wanting to bring your dog with you on your errands, not all businesses allow animals inside. Walmart is one of them. Their corporate policy spells it out clearly by distinguishing pets from service animals. They’re merely following federal, state, and local laws that prohibit them from welcoming your pet to their stores.

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Featured Image Credit: Fit Ztudio, Shutterstock

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