The Most Pet-Friendly City To Live In

Here in the USA, we love our pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) indicates that 38.4% of U.S. households have at least one dog; that's over 48 million families. In comparison, in 25.4% of the U.S., over thirty-one million families have at least one cat. Birds are in 2.8% of U.S. households, and .07% of families have a pet horse, most often at least two.

Factoring in everything it takes to keep a pet happy and healthy, Wallethub crunched a bunch of numbers regarding pet ownership. Detailed methodology is available, but basically, the factors considered are the cost of pet health care, including insurance (25%), overall health and wellness, such as the number of veterinarians and trainers available, dog-friendly restaurants, shops, and doggie daycare (50%), followed by weather, dog-friendly trails and the number of dog parks and parkland (25%). The results indicate that the country's most pet-friendly city is Scottsdale, Arizona.

Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale, a city adjacent to Phoenix, has walkable shops and gallery areas, plenty of dog-friendly restaurants and hotels, plus dog parks and nearby walking trails for dogs and their people, according to Experience Scottsdale. While cats and birds are happy with food and water, toys, and regular affection, dogs are more like their human owners and need all of the above, plus playtime and socialization. Like us, dogs like having friends and require stimulation by regularly seeing and sniffing new places.

Given these interactive needs, it's not inexpensive to have a pet. Wallethub also reports that veterinary expenditure per pet is about $253 per year for dogs and cats, about $98 annually. Additional costs for food, boarding or daycare, toys, grooming, and products add up to a commitment for the pet's entire life. And how long is that? PetMD says that a dog's lifespan is, on average, 11 years, but the number is affected by breed, weight, and general condition. Paw Tracks indicates indoor cats can live between 10 and 15 years, with the breed, weight, and overall health considered. By comparison, outdoor cats live only two to five years, given the dangers of wildlife, traffic, and disease.

Pick your priority

Scottsdale made it to the top of the list by averaging out the categories, and data show the city ranking No. 1 in health & wellness, 6th in outside friendliness, but 74th in budget, per Wallethub. This means the amenities are great, but when it comes to the cost of living, and in this case, taking good care of pets, Scottsdale is not the cheapest. Still, it averages out to be the best place in the country for dog owners. Of course, what's most important is to make your space, wherever you live, an area that's comfortable and pet-friendly.

The least expensive city to have a pet is Raleigh, NC but its rankings are mid-range regarding pet wellness and outdoor pet friendliness. Downtown Raleigh has a list of patio-friendly dog spaces, local walking areas, and more. San Francisco is the leader in outdoor pet friendliness, but the pet budget is 99 out of 100, the most expensive of all the cities considered. When looking at these rankings, determine what's most important to you — getting out there with your pup to restaurants or parks or having more affordable vet bills.

Runners up

Going back to overall ratings, the No. 2 overall for pet friendliness after Scottsdale is Tampa, Florida. The city on the west coast of Florida, close to St. Petersburg and Clearwater, has middling marks for budget, good marks for outdoor pet friendliness, and high marks for pet health and wellness. That's So Tampa reports there are over 200 dog-friendly restaurants in the city and the fourth-highest number of dog parks per capita in the country. Tampa just created a new 4,000-square-foot urban infill dog park and café space created by the non-profit Friends of Ybor for $600,000.

The No. 3 in overall ratings is Portland, Oregon, which is fourth in outdoor pet friendliness with fenced-in off-leash dog parks, dog-friendly trails, and patios, via Travel Portland. After that is St. Louis, Missouri, the home of the pet food company Ralston Purina, now Nestle Purina PetCare, founded in 1894, according to Explore St. Louis. Originally a company that made feed for horses and mules, Purina helped create the St. Louis Petlover Coalition. This group of organizations, including animal rescue bodies, veterinarians, and city and county health departments, are working to increase pet adoption and improve animal welfare.

Fun for dogs and horses

Next on the list is Cincinnati, situated on the Ohio River. It is filled with activities for people and their pets, from breweries, which Cincinnati is known for, to wineries, cafés, and of course, parks and trails, according to 21C Museum Hotel. The sixth place is held by St. Petersburg, Florida, next to the No. 2 ranked city, Tampa. A different study conducted by Smart Asset calculated pet-friendliness a little differently. By their accounting, St. Pete is No. 1 due to the number of pet stores, vets, shops filled with dog gear, and over 130 dog-friendly restaurants.

The next city, No. 7, is certainly dog-friendly like the others. But we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that Lexington, Kentucky, the horse capital of the world, per Visit Lex. The area boasts over 400 horse farms, offering horse shows and events; shops also cater to horse owners. Even the city streets are named after famous racehorses and Kentucky Derby winners. There's also the 1,200-acre Kentucky Horse Park, a working farm with trails, educational programs, a museum, and more open to the public. It hosts hundreds of special events, and yes, except for the museum and café, you can bring your dog to this attraction.

The rest of the top ten

To round out the top ten, the eighth place goes to Las Vegas. Sure, many resort hotels are dog and cat friendly, and there are several trails, including the infamous Strip, where you can walk with your dog. Note there are some restrictions, and remember, Vegas is in the desert, so temperatures on trails and concrete can get too hot for doggie feet, especially in summer. Still, PlanetWare has a good description of where you can bring your dog, and Dog Friendly even has a list of casinos that welcome your pet.

At No. 9 is Colorado Springs. Talk about the great outdoors — this city, with incredible views of Pike's Peak, offers miles and miles of trails, dog parks, restaurants, and hotels that accommodate your pup. Colorado has suggestions for a perfect weekend, such as visiting Palmer Park, all planned for small and large dogs. Visit Colorado Springs also mentions a Jeep tour that accommodates dogs no matter their size or breed. The 10th on the list is Raleigh, the charming North Carolina city we mentioned earlier. Even if your area didn't make the list of the friendliest cities for pets in the U.S., you and your pup could always stay at home wherever you live, especially if you create an ideal space for them and yourself.