Imagine this: You and your best friend hit an exercise class together, pick up some treats at a cute boutique, then go out to eat at a restaurant with a special menu for your pal because, after all, she’s a dog.
That’s right. This isn’t the description of a girls’ day out. It’s a sampling of the options that are available to dog owners who live in some of the nation’s best cities for dogs.
In May, online real estate broker Estately named what it found to be the top 17 American cities for dogs. The factors in their list included weather, Walk Score (the city’s walkability), yard size, availability of dog activities, Meetup groups and the availability of dog sitters on Rover.com.
Earlier this year, Nerd Wallet’s finance blog compiled a list of its top 10 cities to have a dog. It had some similar criteria but also focused on the financial aspects of having a pet. Its factors included walkability, the number of dog parks where you can get out to socialize and the cost of a visit to the vet.
Below, Vetstreet highlights the cities that made an appearance on both lists — and we went to the source to ask dog owners in those lucky seven spots about what makes their hometown so great for their best friends.
Topping both of the lists was the Pacific Northwest’s Portland, and we can see why. First, it has the largest number of dog parks per capita of any large city in the U.S., according to Estately — and you can bring your pooch with you to many places catering to humans. They say it’s also home to 19 pet massage therapists and is one of pet-sitting site Rover.com’s top 20 cities. Nerd Wallet finds that on top of that, Portland has relatively inexpensive veterinary care.
“You see a lot of people who do take their dogs with them everywhere because you can,” says Lizz Smith, a Portland resident and owner of two Pit Bull Terrier-type dogs, Squishy and Kevyn.
She says some area restaurants, such as the Tin Shed, even offer a dog menu — Portland’s answer to the kids’ menu. There are also plenty of boutique pet shops that supply the demand for high-quality food and treats for furry family members. After all that food, you and your pup can get a combination workout at Sit Stay Fit, which offers fitness classes for the two of you.
“Every park that you can find in town has a dog zone,” says Smith, who volunteers with the Born Again Pit Bull Rescue. “And being in a town where it rains all the time, there are a lot of indoor dog parks.”
You might not think of Sin City as a place that’s teeming with dog parks, but it is! According to Estately, it has the third best number of them per capita (25), and Nerd Wallet adds that one dog park even has gated areas for small, medium and large pups. It's home to a radio show called The Las Vegas Hot Diggity Dog Show, Estately reports, although it also lists a con: a low walkability score. On the plus side, Nerd Wallet finds that the city has affordable vet care.
The dog owners we talked to say that the benefits don’t end there. Joe Lilly, who has been a Las Vegas resident for 10 years, lives just 10 minutes from the strip with his 1-year-old Border Collie, Nessie (that’s short for The Loch Ness Monster). “Las Vegans really seem to love dogs,” he says, possibly due to the number of dog-friendly outdoor malls close to the city, such as Town Square and The District at Green Valley Ranch. There, many of the retailers will offer your dog water and treats.
As far as walks are concerned, Lilly says that the weather is “always nice,” and he and Nessie often squeeze in a one- to two-hour hike in the early morning hours, before the temperature begins to rise. Lilly, who helps train and rehabilitate dogs, notes that the city is surrounded by parks, mountains, deserts and lakes — so you can take your pick of how to spend time outdoors with your pooch.
Kelley Gustafson moved to the Las Vegas metro area from California with her family, including 11-year-old white German Shepherd Dog Whistler, last summer. Gustafson says Vegas is the “best city we have lived in for dogs. [There are] lots of trails and sidewalks, too. We are in a new subdivision that has the dog bag trees to pick up after your dog, and I know we are not the only ones. This city seems to have a lot of services for dogs — grooming, vets and pet stores galore.”
The temperatures in South Florida can get steamy, but with an abundance of dog-friendly beaches, there are plenty of opportunities for your pal to cool off, too, says Estately. Nerd Wallet calls the city’s layout “highly walkable” and says it’s affordable for veterinary care. Plus, it has 13 dog-friendly parks and the Amelia Earhart Bark Park, which features five acres of land with benches and drinking fountains designed just for canines, the blog says.
At Vetstreet, we hesitated a bit on Miami because it has controversial breed-specific legislation, which means that you can’t keep certain dogs (including Pit Bull-type dogs) in the area. Last year, Miami-Dade County voters decided overwhelmingly to keep the ban.
Still, dog owners who spend their days in the tropical sun say it deserves a place on the list.
“There are several state parks and national parks in South Florida that allow dogs, including Bill Baggs State Park on Key Biscayne and Everglades National Park,” says Christi Sherouse, who brings her 10-year-old Double Doodle Miniature Labradoodle, Cleo, to beaches and out shopping at some of the area’s high-end outdoor malls. “Her favorite store at Merrick Park is Nordstrom, as some of the employees keep snacks hidden behind the counters for her.”
Sherouse says she finds that the area is “very receptive to well-behaved dogs.”
As far as the weather goes, it’s the snow, rather than the sun, in Minneapolis that makes some dogs very happy. Estately says the Minnesota city has a full menu of dog-friendly restaurants, along with a whole lot of parks and plentiful hiking trails to hit with your best friend. Nerd Wallet, meanwhile, says the city is a “mecca for dog owners,” thanks to the parks and hiking, and features lots of events and gatherings to attend with your pooch. One business even has Doga — dog yoga.
Minnesotan Ann Brimacombe spends so much time on the hundreds of miles of city and state trails with her Shiba Inu, Kenji, that the pup is known as the “Mayor of Minnehaha,” the name of a creek there that flows into the Mississippi. At 11 years old, Kenji is “beautiful and fit thanks to his daily strolls along the creek and around the city lakes,” Brimacombe says. Kenji has lots of adventures on his walks, even learning to skijor with his owners during the long winters.
Brimacombe and Kenji enjoy the various dog parks, including what she calls “the crown jewel,” an off-leash park below Fort Snelling along the Mississippi River bottoms. The large park includes a beach, bluffs and several types of forests. “This park is always busy, but because of its size and varied terrain, you can see as many or as few people and dogs as you want,” Brimacombe says. “Plus, if your dog likes water, it's a dream. Just ask Kenji.”
keep your four-legged friends happy and healthy
Puppies need to learn a few things about proper play.
To help you better understand your elusive feline, we rounded up 10 cat behaviors that people commonly consider mysterious. You'll find that many of these habits aren't weird at all for cats -- they're normal. Click through this slideshow to learn more about mysterious feline habits and what they mean.
Your dog loves sticking his head out the window, but imagine the tragic results of disregarding his (or your) safety.
We asked veterinary professionals across America which breeds were the noisiest. From the classic Basset Hound howl to the Siberian Husky siren, we explore the sounds of our favorite vocal canines.
It’s an age-old discussion: Are you a cat person or a dog person?
Prefer a canine pal who will be satisfied to watch the big game with you on the sofa instead of running interference on your neighborhood touch football team? All dogs need some daily exercise, but we showcase a dozen couch-loving canines whose exercise needs can be satisfied with a short stroll or brief indoor playtime.
To celebrate the start of longer days and warmer weather, we rounded up our favorite pups dressed up in summer attire. From hula skirts and board shorts to sunglasses and straw hats, we can’t get enough of these chic (and adorable) canine outfits.