Most pet-friendly cities in America
Pets are much more than just companions. They're furry friends who add structure and silliness to their owners' days—and can even improve mental health. Naturally, owners want to build their homes in the most welcoming community for their adopted animals. Unfortunately, many apartments or senior communities have strict no-pet rules or impose limits on the weight, breed, or number of pets. Many hotels and motels also have strict no-pet policies or require exorbitant fees, making traveling with pets inconvenient.
A 2019-20 survey by the American Pet Products Association showed that two-thirds of families in the United States, or about 85 million households, have a pet. Americans spend a lot of money on their furry friends too, shelling out more than $72 billion in 2018, up from just $21 billion in 1996.
With this in mind, Stacker set out to find the 50 cities offering the most welcoming environment for pets based on metrics evaluated by WalletHub. Each of the 100 most populated cities was ranked in August 2019 across three key categories: pet budget, pet health and wellness, and outdoor pet-friendliness. Each of those was then evaluated on a series of 24 metrics that were graded on a 100-point scale. Pet Insurance and veterinary costs were used to determine pet budget, while pet health and wellness analyzed the number of vets, caretakers, dog-friendly restaurants and hotels, as well as the number of animal shelters and relevant animal protection laws. As for outdoor pet-friendliness, Stacker examined weather, the number of dog parks and trails, and how many dog shows the city hosts. The three category scores were tallied and combined for the overall score.
Whether you’re looking for a pet-friendly hotel for your next vacation, or a restaurant or bar to take your pooch for "yappy hour,” this is the list for you. Continue reading to consider which communities are the most pet-friendly.
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#50. Fremont, California
- Total score: 44.64
- Pet budget rank: #92 out of 100
- Pet health and wellness rank: #54 out of 100
- Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #5 out of 100
The Fremont area offers more than 16 pet-friendly outdoor facilities such as parks, year-round trails, and recreation areas. One of them is Vargas Plateau Regional Park, a 1,249-acre space overlooking San Francisco Bay, Niles Canyon, and three cities. It provides opportunities for you and your pet to see numerous species of wildlife, along with six miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails.
#49. Corpus Christi, Texas
- Total score: 44.93
- Pet budget rank: #3 out of 100
- Pet health and wellness rank: #87 out of 100
- Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #80 out of 100
Corpus Christi has more than a dozen bars and restaurants where your pooch can be by your side for dinner and drinks, with some even offering food and water bowls. The city ranks behind only Stockton, California, for the lowest veterinary costs in the country, making it #3 overall for budget-friendly pet ownership. A number of pet-friendly parks and beaches are within the city limits, as is the South Texas Botanical Gardens, where leashed pets can stop and smell the flowers.
#48. Washington, District of Columbia
- Total score: 45.11
- Pet budget rank: #88 out of 100
- Pet health and wellness rank: #33 out of 100
- Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #17 out of 100
The nation’s capital boasts a number of parks that are pet-friendly, including the National Mall and Memorial Gardens, where leashed pets can stroll past the Washington Monument, as well as other museums. Visit another park, like Georgetown Waterfront Park or Constitution Gardens, to find a place for the family to feed the ducks since it’s discouraged at the reflecting pool. Many restaurants offer outdoor “pooch patios,” like Art and Soul, where your pet can lounge, or even order something off the menu.
#47. Bakersfield, California
- Total score: 45.50
- Pet budget rank: #48 out of 100
- Pet health and wellness rank: #71 out of 100
- Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #35 out of 100
Seven off-leash dog parks and lots of open spaces score Bakersfield high marks for outdoor pet-friendliness. Dozens of restaurants offer outdoor seating so your pooch can join you for lunch or dinner, while Village Pet Market is a good spot for all natural foods and treats. Bakersfield Veterinary Hospital gets positive marks for its multiple locations, 24/7 emergency services, and the ability to help all types of animals.
#46. Arlington, Texas
- Total score: 45.68
- Pet budget rank: #58 out of 100
- Pet health and wellness rank: #38 out of 100
- Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #56 out of 100
Yelp says you’ll find about 10 low-priced veterinarians in the Arlington, Texas, area, including Sam’s All Pets Animal Hospital, which gets a 4.5 out of 5 score from reviewers. And with lots of ducks to feed and shade for your pets, Bowman Springs Park is a favorite spot for the entire family in Arlington.
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#45. Henderson, Nevada
- Total score: 46.17
- Pet budget rank: #52 out of 100
- Pet health and wellness rank: #66 out of 100
- Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #24 out of 100
You’ll find around a dozen pet-friendly hotels in Henderson, according to Yelp. The historic Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino is a good gamble, with pet fees of only $10. And with less than 7 inches of rain a year and plenty of warm days, Henderson might be the ideal location for hot-weather buffs and their similarly inclined animals.
#44. Virginia Beach, Virginia
- Total score: 46.47
- Pet budget rank: #12 out of 100
- Pet health and wellness rank: #51 out of 100
- Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #90 out of 100
Virginia Beach is a relatively inexpensive place to own a pet, although just two public dog parks push it toward the bottom for pet-friendliness. A number of pet-friendly hotels are available near the beach, but check the rules for the best sandy spots to bring your pet. Acredale Animal Hospital is among the top-rated vets in the area, staying open 24/7 and providing services ranging from surgery to behavioral therapy.
#43. Columbus, Ohio
- Total score: 46.51
- Pet budget rank: #11 out of 100
- Pet health and wellness rank: #75 out of 100
- Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #63 out of 100
Owners of dogs, cats, and ferrets can save $20 on their pets’ routine blood work associated with dental cleanings at Carepet Clinic. The Rascal Animal Hospital in nearby Dublin, meanwhile, offers comprehensive exams for as little as $50. Columbus is home to the National K9 Learning Center, which trains not only dogs but also their trainers.
#42. Chesapeake, Virginia
- Total score: 46.57
- Pet budget rank: #34 out of 100
- Pet health and wellness rank: #76 out of 100
- Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #28 out of 100
Four dog parks within the city limits help Chesapeake earn the #28 spot for outdoor pet-friendliness, but you will need a membership. City Park is the highlight, offering separate areas for small dogs, while the grounds’ 60 acres of open space are ideal for a long walk or feeding the ducks. Yelp gives Edinburgh Animal Hospital top marks for small-animal veterinary services in Chesapeake, offering surgical and emergency care.
#41. San Francisco, California
- Total score: 46.86
- Pet budget rank: #100 out of 100
- Pet health and wellness rank: #18 out of 100
- Outdoor pet-friendliness rank: #1 out of 100
San Francisco takes WalletHub's #1 spot for outdoor pet-friendliness, with its numerous pet parks and dog-training facilities. Its flagship pet excursion is the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, covering more than 82,000 acres surrounding the Bay Area. It’s billed as “the most dog-friendly national park” by the National Park Service.
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