News release

Dogs Allowed on Restaurant Patios, Sidewalk Cafes

Pet dogs are now allowed on restaurant, bar and café patios (along with their owners, of course) as part of the Rankin government’s promise to remove unnecessary barriers for restaurants to meet customer needs.

“We’ve listened to the restaurant industry. They told us this change will help them attract more dog owners who want to enjoy a leisurely meal or a beverage and be able to do so without having to leave their dogs at home,” said Premier Iain Rankin. “The new rules will still protect food safety and allow restaurants to offer this option if that’s what their customers want.”

This change, which takes effect today, March 30, is also another way to support the food service industry that has been so severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m happy the province will offer restaurants this option to appeal to more customers. Nova Scotians love their dogs, and I’m looking forward to seeing lots out on the patios this spring,” said Environment and Climate Change Minister Keith Irving.

Individual business owners can decide whether to allow pet dogs, limit the number of dogs or ask a customer to remove the pet if it is misbehaving. Restaurant owners who allow dogs must adhere to strict food safety guidelines, including:

  • pet dogs will not be allowed inside restaurants; they will only be allowed on patios that can be accessed from the street
  • dogs are not permitted to eat while at the restaurant but they can drink water from separate bowls brought by the owner
  • restaurants with dog-friendly patios must post a sign so potential customers are aware before they sit down

Quotes:

This change will be good for restaurants, bars and cafes across the province. Our research shows that restaurants that allow dogs see a five per cent increase in sales. Many dog owners are more likely to linger on their favourite patio, and order food or another beverage, if their dog can stay with them. It’s good for our industry and good for customers. Gordon Stewart, executive director, Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia

Quick Facts:

  • pet owners must keep their dogs on the ground and away from aisles
  • owners must clean up any waste immediately
  • other regulatory changes clarify that dogs can be present in the inside dining areas of long-term care facilities and child-care facilities when meals are not being served; dogs were already allowed in these facilities
  • there are no changes to the rules for dogs certified under the Nova Scotia Service Dogs Act – they are allowed on patios and inside restaurants

Additional Resources:

Provincial food safety regulations: https://novascotia.ca/just/regulations/regs/hpafood.htm

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Media Contact:

Barbara MacLean
Cell: 902-237-3512 Email: