Pet ownership has skyrocketed in 2020, with some 68 million people living with pets. It was also estimated that U.S. pet owners were expected to spend about $99 billion, up from $95 billion in the previous year.
With more pet ownership happening across the country, finding the best cities for pets could help you live more comfortably. The best cities for pets provide pet-friendly apartments, as well as plenty of amenities, such as off-leash parks, hiking spots, veterinary hospitals and doggie daycares.
Finding the best cities for pets
In our search for the best cities for pets, we analyzed the percentage of apartments in our database that were pet-friendly and allowed dogs or cats.
We also looked at the average cost of veterinarian services in large metro areas with populations above 100,000 and the number of pet-related businesses and parks per capita. Then, we ranked them accordingly.
Here are the best cities for pets in the U.S.
10. Davie, FL
Just north of Miami, Davie is a town with plenty of scenic parks. Head over to Happy Tails Dog Park, the city’s pristine dog park, where your dog can socialize and run obstacle courses. The park has three different play areas and doggie water fountains.
There’s also Central Broward Park, which features 110 acres of fields and playgrounds, Vista View Park, a hilly green space to spend the day hiking and Peace Mound Park, which has an ancient burial site.
Located in Broward County, Davie is known for its colleges, universities and technical colleges. It’s home to plenty of family-friendly activities, such as hanging at the Flamingo Garden and Everglades Holiday Park.
9. Vacaville, CA
Fast-growing city Vacaville in Northern California, just 55 miles outside of San Francisco and because it’s not in the heart of the city, it’s a lot more affordable, too.
Vacaville is a great place to get on your bike and take your dog on a run through Alamo Creek Bike Trail or Lagoon Valley Park, a green, fenced off area for off-leash dogs to run around.
Besides sprawling, recreational areas and charming parks, you can also spend the afternoon checking out some of the local wineries.
Vacaville even has its own little museum, honoring the local heritage. It’s an ideal place away from the hustle and bustle, but close enough if you ever need to access a bigger city (only 35 miles from Sacramento).
8. Naperville, IL
Naperville is a suburb of Chicago — it sits just 35 miles west of the Windy City and is home to paths and bridges that hug the DuPage River. Just like Vacaville, Naperville is far enough from the concrete jungle of Chicago so residents can enjoy the more scenic vibe of public art, colorful local shops, cafes and restaurants.
Grab the leash and take your dog on a stroll through Naperville Riverwalk, which has a two-mile path that opens up to the heart of the city. It’s picturesque with lots of green space, shopping and places to eat or get takeout along the way.
7. Arvada, CO
When it comes to outdoor activities, you really can’t find a better place than Colorado. Arvada, which is near Denver, offers a unique, small-town feel with a retro vibe. The city has a historic shopping district called Olde Town and offers plenty of parks, trails (it has 125 miles of hiking and biking!) and lakes where you can see the mountains and bald eagles.
You can hike Mesa Trail and see views of the Flatirons or check out Eldorado Canyon State Park to climb amid sandstone cliffs. Because of its close proximity to nature, low crime rate and educated workforce, Arvada is a popular place to live. It encompasses the top 20 of Colorado’s wealthiest ZIP Codes.
6. Scottsdale, AZ
While summers are hot, the rest of the year in Scottsdale is relatively mild, which makes it a comfortable place to live with your pet and get outside. Just outside of Arizona’s capital Phoenix, Scottsdale is well-known for incredible views of rock formations at Camelback Mountain and Hole in the Rock, a geological cluster with big open spaces.
Scottsdale even has a number of popular pet-friendly hotels (for some cool, indoor time for those scorching summers) and is generally welcoming of pets in public places, such as its posh Scottsdale Fashion Square and local wineries.
5. Tyler, TX
In eastern Texas, Tyler is known for its rose gardens and even has a museum dedicated to remembering the rich history of the town’s annual Texas Rose Festival.
Tyler is the kind of place where you can visit popular attractions, such as the Tyler Azalea trail and any of their lakes, such as Lake Tyler and East Lake Tyler.
The city’s location and access to nature make it a great place for pets. The Sunrise Paw Park is a massive dog park — four acres, to be exact. The park, just northwest of Old Jackson Highway, has separate fenced off sections for small and large dogs to play and socialize.
4. Boulder, CO
At the base of the Rocky Mountains is Boulder, CO. The city offers the best of both worlds, with the intricate rock formations of the Flatirons just west and the convenience of Pearl Street’s downtown’s shops, cafes and restaurants.
You can take your furry best friend just about anywhere in Boulder, including hiking trails and picnics with some spectacular scenery.
A dog-friendly must-do hike is the Flatirons Vista and Doudy Draw Trail, which is a beginner-level, 3.7-mile hike that will take about three hours. It’s an incredible way to spend the day, especially in the spring.
3. Ann Arbor, MI
Ann Arbor is near the Huron River and nicknamed “Tree Town” because of its abundance of green space — even their downtown is filled with trees. Known as one of the best places to live in Michigan, Ann Arbor is a welcoming place for young professionals, families and their pets.
A popular destination for dog-lovers is Swift Run Dog Park, which is an outdoor grassy area with 10 acres of freedom for Fido to get some exercise and be off-leash.
Stroll through the coffee shops and historic downtown area that’s lined with vintage clothing shops, independent bookstores and historic theaters. Ann Arbor is also home to the University of Michigan, and its creative, youthful vibe makes it feel like a typical university town.
2. Charleston, SC
For being such an old city, founded in 1670, Charleston is surprisingly pet-friendly, with tons to do and see with Fido, including James Island County Park. This play haven features a dog beach, four acres of grass, a cleaning station and a fenced play area for small dogs.
Besides dog parks, beaches and trails, Charleston exudes an old, historic charm. The port city has cobblestone streets, especially in the French Quarter and Battery districts.
Go for a stroll down the promenade and Waterfront Park for a relaxing view of the Charleston Harbor. There are also tons of local shopping venues, theaters, museums, cafes and gardens.
1. Greeley, CO
The No. 1 city for Fido is in Greeley, a city in northern Colorado, about an hour away from Denver. There’s plenty of outdoor activities to do with your pet, from spending the afternoon at Poudre River Trail or taking advantage of the green space at Rover’s Run Dog Park.
Greeley is a central hub for community events and unlike its more expensive counterparts in Denver and Boulder, it’s considered a hidden gem due to its affordability in housing.
Greeley is a thriving cultural area, known for its art, entertainment and food-driven events, such as their summer-long Friday Fest and OktoBREWfest in the fall.
Greeley also landed in the No. 35 spot in a well-being index report, which measures community social and health data across populations.
The 50 best cities for pets
If you want to know what other cities made the list beyond the top 10, here are the top 50 best cities for pets.
Finding a pet-friendly apartment
Here’s what you need to know in order to find the best find a pet-friendly apartment for your needs.
Search for pet-friendly amenities
Newer apartment buildings come with all sorts of amenities, beyond a pool and fitness center. Pet-friendly apartments will have on-site dog parks, washing stations and even pet daycare.
Get renters insurance
You may have heard why it’s important to get renters insurance. Consider buying it for the year if you’re ready to move to a new apartment with your pet. It could show your new landlord that you’re responsible and are covered in case your pet causes any damage to the unit.
Depending on the type of coverage and policy you choose, renters insurance may include:
- Property damage to the unit
- Liability in case someone gets hurt in your unit
- Theft of belongings in your apartment and car
- Additional living expenses if your home becomes uninhabitable as a result of a covered emergency
Get a recommendation
Ask your former landlord to write a letter of recommendation, highlighting your dog’s behavior and the condition of your previous apartment. You may want to include other types of documentation when talking to your landlord, such as:
- Obedience school documents
- Pet sitters who took care of your dog
- A former neighbor
Pay a pet deposit
This topic will inevitably come up when you look for a pet-friendly apartment. Most apartment buildings will require a pet deposit, which is generally a few hundred dollars.
Take photos of your apartment before you move in
When you find the right place to live, be sure to take photos of your apartment before you move in. This could serve a few purposes for you, including proof that your pet didn’t ruin the unit.
You could show these photos to future landlords to state your case that your dog is well behaved. It could also help you get your security deposit back.
To determine the best cities for pets, we looked at all cities with at least 100,000 people according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 estimates and then ranked each city by the following factors:
- The percentage of available properties that allow dogs or cats. Listings are from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s November 2020 multifamily rental property inventory.
Veterinarian costs (20%)
Pet businesses per capita (30%)
- Businesses include vets, animal hospitals, pet shops, pet training facilities, pet boarding, pet supplies and parks. Counts come from a database of 8 million commercially licensed business listings and may not reflect recent openings or closures.
Each of these factors was weighted differently, and the cities with the best overall score were determined to be the best cities for pets.