When it comes to choosing the top pet-friendly cities, we want more than just restaurants with dog-friendly patios and big dog parks. We’re thinking and dreaming bigger when it comes to our dogs. We want to live where our dogs can be healthy and happy and treated like the kings and queens we always knew they were.
We LOVE WalletHub‘s annual list of pet-friendly cities. This list really covers all the bases when it comes to the demands we make for our pets. They compared the top 100 most populated cities by 24 key metrics that fell into three categories:
Pet Budget, which takes into account things like the average cost of pet insurance and veterinarian visits.
Pet Health & Wellness, weighing the number per capita of veterinarians, pet-care businesses, and pet-friendly shops and restaurants, etc.
Outdoor Pet Friendliness, taking into consideration weather and fun outdoorsy things available for dogs, like dog-friendly trails and dog parks. NOTE: This year, WalletHub took COVID restrictions by city into account – see their methodology to learn more.
Add the three categories together, do a little math, and the result is 100 cities ranked by the overall quality of life they offer pets! If you’re looking for more in a city than a nice pet-friendly brunch, start your search here.
First, 15- 11, the “Honorable Mentions” on our list:
15. Lexington-Fayette, KY
14. Portland, OR
13. Boise, ID
12. Scottsdale, AZ (#1 in 2018)
11. Cincinnati, OH
2020’s Top 10 Pet-Friendly Cities
10. San Diego, CA
Is your dog the type who likes to Sunday Funday with you? San Diego scored top marks for pet-friendly restaurants and shops. Are you more of the “outdoorsy” type? San Diego is home to one of the country’s best dog beaches. Located in Ocean Beach, dogs are free to run, swim, and play off-leash on their own designated sandy slice of heaven. The city is also home to many shelters – so if you don’t have a buddy of your own to brunch and beach with, your new best friend will be easy to find.
9. Birmingham, AL
The city of Birmingham earned the number 9 spot on WalletHub’s list with moderately good scores across all three categories. The weather may be hotter in the south, but Birmingham cares about its pets. The city recently approved an ordinance that cracks down on “passive” animal abuse, delivering penalties for people who leave their dogs tethered for too long. And with so many places to take your pup with you – including 132 dog-friendly restaurants (according to BringFido.com), there’s no reason to leave your dog at home anyway!
8. New Orleans, LA
New Orleans is a guaranteed good time year-round, but you’ll never forget Mardi Gras in the city! Grab some beads in purple, gold and green and catch the Mystic Krewe of Barkus at Mardi Gras – the only krewe to parade with their pups! Every year the Krewe decks their dogs out in fantastic costumes and celebrates the best thing life has to offer: the love of a dog!
7. Atlanta, GA
Atlanta scores big in the Pet Health & Safety category. It tied with other top 10 cities for shelters and low dog insurance premiums. According to BringFido.com, you’ll also find an abundance of parks, hiking trails, and over 300 pet-friendly restaurants! You and your pup can enjoy the gorgeous Atlanta skyline from Piedmont Park, where your dog can run off-leash in three acres by the water.
6. St. Louis, MO
The people of St. Louis love their sports teams, and the St. Louis Cardinals love dogs! On special Dog Days at Busch Stadium, your well-behaved pooch can join you for a game and maybe a hot dog or two! St. Louis scored high with WalletHub for outdoor pet-friendliness. That means lots of green areas, hiking trails, and dog parks, and a bonus drive-in movie theater that welcomes dogs on leash.
5. Seattle, WA
Seattle tied with other top cities for the number one score for pet-friendly restaurants. We’re big fans of The Seattle Barkery, which started out as Seattle’s first dog food truck, but has since expanded to include two other locations! Pups love food and with so many options around town, your dog will be in hound heaven!
4. Orlando, FL
Orlando may be home for a very famous mouse, but the city loves its dogs, too! Another top-scorer for dog-friendly fare, pet parents can enjoy human food with the company of their dog in almost 400 restaurants (according to BringFido.com.) Pets aren’t allowed at Disney World, but service dogs are welcome to meet their favorite Disney stars, get their caricature drawn, and wear mouse ears with their handler. We love seeing the adorable photos of service dogs enjoying a nice day at Disney with the human they love!
3. Las Vegas, NV
You may picture bright lights and slot machines with you think of Las Vegas, but this city is a great place for dogs too! Your dog may not be interested in joining you for a show or a trip to the casino, but many hotels welcome pups. If you’re planning a vacation in Vegas, don’t leave your dog at home!
2. Austin, TX
Austin loves its rescues. The city is home to a number of no-kill rescues we love and wins with WalletHub for shelters per capita. If you move to the capital of the Lone Star state, adopt yourself a new friend and then take them with you to any one of Austin nearly 500 pet-friendly restaurants!
1. Tampa, FL
Tampa scored high in all three categories. Though it may not have the MOST parks or beaches or restaurants, it does have all of those things, so there will always be plenty of things to do with your dog. You’ll have no trouble finding a vet and you can even have your dog’s portrait taken at photographer and Pittie advocate Adam Goldberg’s new brick-and-mortar portrait studio in south Tampa.