Pet Care Blog

Best U.S. Cities For Dogs: Pet-Friendliest Places In 2023

Kaelee Nelson
Kaelee Nelson
Content Manager - Pawlicy Advisor
woman reading map with dog

If you're a dog owner considering a move, don’t forget to keep the needs of your four-legged family member in mind. Without researching the pet-friendliness of a new city or state, you may arrive to find unexpectedly high prices for pet care, limited access to veterinary services, or few opportunities for outdoor adventures, just to name a few drawbacks.

Pawlicy Advisor is all about helping pet parents make the right decision for their pets, their finances, and their families. So, we rounded up some of the best cities to live with a dog in the United States to simplify your search.

Find Local Vets

Compare Pet Insurance By Location

Our analysis of over 100 metropolitan areas is broken down by category, so that you can quickly spot the features that matter most to your lifestyle and its priorities.

Click on a link to see the best cities for dogs by each criteria:

The overall best cities for dogs

There are many different aspects that can make a place more or less “pet-friendly”. Five of the most important factors to consider when searching for the best cities for dogs include: affordable pet care, low dog insurance rates, pet-to-people ratio, pet-friendly establishments, and good weather.

Below, we’ve chosen five of the overall best cities for dogs with representation in each of these categories. a winner in each of these categories and summarized the overall best cities for dogs. Click on a link to see other top contenders by that criteria, or read end-to-end for our full analysis.

  1. Lowest average veterinary costs - Lincoln, Nebraska
  2. Cheapest dog insurance rates - Evansville, Indiana
  3. Most dog-friendly establishments - Charleston, South Carolina
  4. Best weather for outdoor activities - Long Beach, California
  5. Highest pet-to-people ratio - Temecula, California

Top 5 cities with lowest veterinary costs

Taking care of pets’ health can be very expensive. In fact, a recent study conducted by MetLife Pet Insurance found that one-third of people exceed their budget by $500 whenever they take their pet to the vet.1 This can add up quickly, especially for pets with chronic conditions.

However, vet visit costs can vary drastically depending on a variety of factors, including location. Services are normally priced competitively based on employment rates (how many vets are available in an area), operating costs (such as labor, rent, and equipment), as well as the type of treatment provided.

The five U.S. cities with the lowest vet costs are:2

  1. Lincoln, Nebraska
  2. Corpus Christi, Texas
  3. Columbus, Ohio
  4. Stockton, California
  5. Birmingham, Alabama

Services are normally priced competitively based on employment rates (how many vets are available in an area), operating costs (such as labor, rent, and equipment), as well as the type of treatment provided. Typically, vets in rural areas tend to charge less than metropolitan cities because the general cost of living is lower, which impacts the price of most all consumer goods and services.

On a state-wide level, Petplan Pet Insurance found that vets in California, vets in Washington, DC and vets in Hawaii to be the most expensive, where pet parents spend more than $1,500 at the vet on average each year. This is in contrast to states with the lowest average veterinary costs, which are as little as $769 annually for vets in Arkansas and vets in North Dakota.3

Keep in mind that the above averages are based on the cost of standard veterinary care, but unexpected visits to the pet emergency center usually cost substantially more. Without pet insurance, an emergency vet visit costs up to $5,000 in some cases. Fortunately, emergency vets in Mississippi, Kansas, and North Dakota have exceptionally low rates compared to the rest of the country.

Find Local Vets

Top 5 metros with the most veterinarians

Vet availability can impact the cost of service due to the basic principle of supply and demand: the fewer vets there are available, the greater demand there is, and the more people are willing to pay.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of May 2020, the five U.S. metropolitan areas with the highest employment level in veterinarians are:4

  1. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
  3. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE
  4. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
  5. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD

In addition to cost considerations, an abundance of vet offices in an area means you’ll have plenty of options when searching for local veterinarians and determining which one to choose. If necessary, you’ll have an easy time finding a second opinion or getting a referral to a veterinary specialist.

With a high employment level in veterinarians, you can also narrow your search criteria by distance and see which office is closest to your new house or job, making it more convenient (and therefore more likely) for you to take your pet in for routine checkups. If there’s ever a medical pet emergency and that vet office is slammed, you can have peace of mind knowing there is no shortage of alternative locations where your dog can receive critical care.

searching dog locations on tablet

Top 5 locations with lowest dog insurance costs

If you’re comparing the best places for dogs, the cost of pet insurance is another important factor to consider. Location has a significant impact on the pet insurance quote you receive, and premium rates can vary by zip code. For example, based on a policy for an 18-month-old dog, the city with the cheapest dog insurance rates is Evansville, IN at an average of $29.71 per month; however, this jumps up to $36.19 for state residents living in the nearby towns of Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.

To account for these discrepancies and present more accurate information, we analyzed average pet insurance costs on a state-by-state level and found the following locations to have the lowest monthly rates* on health insurance for dogs:

  1. Wyoming - $33.97
  2. Mississippi - $34.17
  3. Louisiana - $35.18
  4. Georgia - $35.61
  5. Oklahoma - $35.71

In regards to cities with the cheapest pet insurance, note that premiums are typically higher in metropolitan areas than rural ones. This might be explained by the fact that vet visits are usually more expensive in metropolitan cities where the cost of living is higher, in addition to higher population densities increasing the possible risk of pet-related accidents.

*These averages are intended to give you a general idea of the cheapest pet insurance rates; the figures are much more accurate when you look at breakdowns that consider age, breed, and location.

Generate Custom Pet Insurance Quotes

Top 5 cities with the most off-leash dog parks

Many dog moms and dog dads love taking their furry friend to the park, especially large dogs who need plenty of space to run and play. Finding designated areas where dogs can roam off-leash is challenging in some places, but the best cities for dogs will have tons of pet-friendly parks within close reach.

With that criteria in mind, here are the five cities with the most dog parks per capita (per 100,000 residents):6

  1. Boise, Idaho - 6.3 parks
  2. Portland, Oregon - 5.8 parks
  3. Henderson, Nevada - 5.1 parks
  4. Madison, Wisconsin tied with San Francisco, California - 4.2 parks
  5. Tampa, Florida - 4.1 parks

Top 5 areas with the best weather for outdoor activities

What good is a dog park that you can rarely enjoy due to persistent bad weather? If you love getting outside and safely enjoying the sun with your four-legged friend, you’ll probably want to know which cities have an ideal climate.

Home to several of the sunniest cities across the United States, California is a clear winner for the location with the best weather. According to the Washington Post, Long Beach, CA takes first place with 210 nice days per year, followed closely by Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco.7 All of these coastal cities are great for dog owners because the persistent maritime influence provides mostly dry days with moderately warm temperatures throughout the entire year (and the scenery isn’t half bad, either!).

Other places where you can find great weather to enjoy with your pup include:

  • Seattle, WA - 78 nice days/year
  • Portland, OR - 74 nice days/year
  • Charlotte, NC - 74 nice days/year
  • Atlanta, GA - 73 nice days/year
  • Jacksonville, FL - 71 nice days/year
  • Las Vegas, NV - 68 nice days/year

Pro Tip: If you and your dog struggle to stay warm and happy during the winter, Southern Arizona — including the cities of Tucson and Phoenix — also scored high on this index for its ideal weather during cooler months.

dog playing at beach

Top 5 places with the most dog-friendly establishments

Some pet parents like to take their canine companions everywhere they go. If you’re one of them, be sure to research locations that offer the best quality of life for dogs by means of pet-friendly establishments you can frequent.

From beaches dogs can swim at, to pup-approved patio pints, these five cities have the most venues to explore with your dog:5

  1. Charleston, SC
  2. Miami, FL
  3. Portland, OR
  4. Oxnard, CA
  5. Honolulu, HI

Charleston, SC is the best place for urban dogs. Charleston tops the list for cities with the most dog-friendly restaurants at 161 restaurants per capita, followed by Miami (119) and Honolulu (75).

Charleston boasts the most dog-friendly breweries at 14 per capita. Close runner-ups are Tampa with 13 and Denver with 12. The city also has the most dog-friendly public beaches (3), followed by Oxnard, CA, and Honolulu, HI.

The only category where Charleston didn’t come out on top is for the city with the most dog-friendly campgrounds. The winner here is Spokane, WA with three dog-friendly campgrounds per capita, followed by Oxnard, Savannah, Honolulu, and Salt Lake City.

Top 5 cities with the highest pet population

What city has the highest population of pets and pet owners? According to 2020 data, the results are as follows:8

  1. Seattle, WA - 246.67 dogs per 1,000 residents
  2. Miami, FL - 187.66 dogs per 1,000 residents
  3. San Francisco, CA - 139.87 dogs per 1,000 residents
  4. Los Angeles, CA - 91.92 dogs per 1,000 residents
  5. New York, NY - 71.97 dogs per 1,000 residents

The American Kennel Club of AKC Pet Insurance published statistics on the percentage of households that own dogs and found these cities home to the most dog-lovers:9

  1. Temecula, CA - 85%
  2. Scottsdale, AZ - 69%
  3. Charleston, SC - 68%
  4. Fort Collins, CO - 67%
  5. San Diego, CA - 63%

Final Thoughts

There are many places that earned a well-deserved spot on our list of best cities for dogs. Use these categories to identify the locations with features that matter most to you and your pet. At the end of the day, as long as you show your dog love and care, it won't matter where you live.

References:

  1. People, “Pet Owners Believe Pets Are As Expensive As Kids” Accessed Dec. 28, 2021.
  2. WalletHub, “Most Pet-Friendly Cities” Accessed Dec. 28, 2021.
  3. CBS News, “Sick Pet? Highest and Lowest Veterinary Costs for Cats and Dogs by State” Accessed Dec. 28, 2021.
  4. BLS, “Occupational Employment & Wage Statistics
  5. Vet Naturals, “Top US Cities with the Most Dog-Friendly Establishments: Outdoor Sites
  6. Statista, “Off-Leash Dog Parks Per 100,000 residents by City in the US” Accessed Dec. 28, 2021.
  7. Washington Post, “The United States of Nice Days” Accessed Dec. 28, 2021.
  8. Coya, "Best Cities For Dogs In 2020" Accessed Dec. 28, 2021.
  9. AKC, "Top American Cities For People Who Love Dogs" Accessed Dec. 28, 2021.

Do you want to find the best pet insurance?

Let's analyze your pet's breed, age, and location to find the right coverage and the best savings. Ready?

Analyze My Pet

About Pawlicy Advisor

The pet insurance marketplace endorsed by veterinarians, at Pawlicy Advisor we make buying the best pet insurance easier. By comparing personalized coverage and pricing differences we can save you a ton of money, up to 83% in some instances!

Learn More
Pawlicy Advisor helping a pet parent and their dog find a great deal on insurance

Instantly Compare Pet Insurance Plans

Get Quotes

Guides

How Pet Insurance Works

How To Compare Plans

Determine If Pet Insurance Is Worth It

Determine If Wellness Plans Are Worth It

Vet Visit Costs

New Puppy Checklist

Comparison Charts

ASPCA vs. Pets Best

Pets Best vs. Embrace

Embrace vs. MetLife

MetLife vs. Figo

More Comparison Charts

Find Your State

New Jersey

California

Florida

Oregon

Texas

New York

Colorado

Pennsylvania

More States

Dog Insurance

German Shepherd

Rottweiler

Akita

Boxer

English Bulldog

French Bulldog

Great Dane

Pug

Corgi

Chihuahua

Poodle

More Breeds

Kaelee Nelson

Kaelee Nelson
Content Manager - Pawlicy Advisor

Kaelee Nelson is a die-hard dog mom, part-time dog trainer, and ultimate pet enthusiast. She recently rescued a puppy named Zoey who went from the streets of Mexico to the big lights in L.A. after Kaelee helped her become officially studio-trained for production work, with the goal of strengthen her dog's confidence as well as the bond they share. Kaelee remains passionate about pets in her role as Content Marketing Manager by helping owners prepare for the financial burden that often comes with giving our furry BFFs the best care possible. Enrolling Zoey in a pet insurance policy was a no-brainer for Kaelee, as it enabled her to get reimbursed for vet costs like spaying, vaccinations, routine care, and more.

More you might like

dog in santa hat 2022
5 minute read

10 New Year's Resolutions For Dogs And Their Owners

dogs waiting for thanksgiving food
10 minute read

What Not To Give Dogs At Christmas Dinner: Unsafe Holiday Foods

dog holding tooth brush
4 minute read

Budgeting For Pet Dental Costs: Vet Bills, Insurance & More

dog retrieving ball in the snow
10 minute read

How To Keep Dogs Warm, Healthy & Happy During Winter

siamese cat owner shaking hand of vet
8 minute read

How to Find a Vet: 10 Key Questions You Should Ask


3 minute read

Dog Gift Guide & Giveaway Contest: Pawlidays 2021

corgi puppy with christmas present
9 minute read

Holiday Safety Tips For Pets: Top 15 Hazards

woman sitting with shiba inu
7 minute read

Shiba Inu Breed Guide

cold dog and cat
7 minute read

Common Winter Illnesses In Pets: 7 Conditions You Should Know

woman paying bill next to dog
5 minute read

5 Tips to Save Money on Pet Care, Vet Bills & Food Supplies

black border collie on hay barrel
6 minute read

Border Collie Breed Guide

american akita dog outdoors
7 minute read

Akita Breed Guide

vet checking on cute cat
9 minute read

Heartworm in Cats: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Costs

golden retriever resting in grass
6 minute read

Golden Retriever Breed Guide

australian shepherd profile
5 minute read

Australian Shepherd Breed Guide

corgi portrait
5 minute read

Corgi Breed Guide

cat carrier in car
6 minute read

Pet Fire Safety & Evacuation Preparedness Checklist

vet techs with doberman
5 minute read

Von Willebrand Disease in Dogs

pomeranian profile outdoors
7 minute read

Pomeranian Breed Guide

golden retriever vet exam for lipomas
7 minute read

Lipomas in Dogs: Are Fatty Tumors Dangerous?

boerboel puppy walking
5 minute read

Boerboel Growth & Weight Chart: Size Guide For Puppies

dog ladybug costume
5 minute read

5 Halloween Pet Safety Tips Every Owner Should Know

sick gray cat with asthma
6 minute read

Cat Asthma: Symptoms, Triggers, & Treatments Costs

holistic vet acupuncturist
9 minute read

Acupuncture For Dogs: Treatments, Costs & Locations

cane corso portrait
7 minute read

Cane Corso Breed Guide: Characteristics, History & Care

bernese mountain dog sunbathing
7 minute read

Bernese Mountain Dog Breed Guide

urinary incontinence in dog wearing diaper
7 minute read

Proin For Incontinence In Dogs

maltese portrait in autumn
7 minute read

Maltese Breed Guide

samoyed puppy
5 minute read

Samoyed Growth & Weight Chart

white havanese dog in meadow
6 minute read

Havanese Breed Guide

white chow chow
6 minute read

Chow Chow Growth & Weight Chart

irish wolfhound portrait
6 minute read

Irish Wolfhound Growth & Weight Chart

dog at work
3 minute read

10 Pics of Dogs Working Hard on the Job

dog pyoderma from scabies
6 minute read

Pyoderma in Dogs

english mastiff puppy
6 minute read

English Mastiff Growth & Weight Chart

profile of rhodesian ridgeback puppy
6 minute read

Rhodesian Ridgeback Growth Chart

alaskan malamute puppy
5 minute read

Alaskan Malamute Growth & Weight Chart

dog mouth wart
7 minute read

Oral Papilloma Virus in Dogs

doberman puppy sitting on tile floor
6 minute read

Doberman Pinscher Growth & Weight Chart

blue heeler puppy sitting at the beach
6 minute read

Blue Heeler Growth & Weight Chart

great pyrenees puppy
6 minute read

Great Pyrenees Growth & Weight Chart

tibetan mastiff puppy on straw
6 minute read

Tibetan Mastiff Growth & Weight Chart

beagle licking hot spot on paw
7 minute read

Hot Spots on Dogs

dog near food bowl
9 minute read

How To Choose The Best Food For Dogs

brown labrador retriever
7 minute read

Labrador Retriever Breed Guide

English bulldog with cherry eye
7 minute read

Cherry Eye in Dogs

working cat
3 minute read

13 Funny Photos of Cats Hard at Work for Their Humans


7 minute read

Why Is My Pet Always So Itchy?

Mystical dog
4 minute read

What Does Your Dog's Zodiac Sign Say About Their Personality?

Pug patellar luxation
7 minute read

Luxating Patella in Dogs: Signs, Surgery Cost & More

Back to Blog
A family with pets that are insured by Pawlicy Advisor
Pawlicy Advisor is the leading independent marketplace for finding the best coverage for your pet at the lowest rate.
Join 2,438,795+ insured dogs and cats across the US.
Get a Quote
Our pet insurance partners
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance Logo
Pets Best Pet Insurance Logo
Embrace Pet Insurance Logo
MetLife Pet Insurance Logo
Figo Pet Insurance Logo
Prudent Pet Insurance Logo