To many of us, pets are family — even if they’re covered in fur, feathers or scales. Animal companionship is a great stress reliever, especially during the social isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Naturally, the nearly 85 million households in the U.S. that own pets want to live places where their beloved companions can enjoy long, healthy lives without breaking the bank. The American Pet Products Association projects that in 2021, pet ownership will cost Americans $99 billion.
Years ago, pet owners had access to only a handful of businesses offering animal services and supplies. Petco and PetSmart were among the biggest names. But the market for pet businesses is growing to fill increasing consumer demand. For example, in 2019, the pet food industry reached a $97 billion global value. There are also new ways to buy goods for your animal, such as monthly subscription boxes.
But adding an animal to the family roster can be hard on the wallet. A long list of expenses that include licenses, grooming and medical care can cost from around $230 to more than $2,000 annually, depending on the type of animal. Health insurance alone can exceed $200 per year for a dog, and it may not even be worth it. And if you rent an apartment with an animal, you can expect to pay hundreds, if not thousands, more for a pet deposit, fee and rent.
With animal parents in mind, WalletHub compared the pet-friendliness of the 100 largest U.S. cities across 25 key metrics. Our data set ranges from minimum pet-care provider rate per visit to pet businesses per capita to walkability. Scroll down for the winners, pet advice from a panel of experts and a full description of our methodology.
Most Pet-Friendly Cities
|Overall Rank*||City||Total Score||‘Pet Budget’ Rank||‘Pet Health & Wellness’
|‘Outdoor Pet-Friendliness’ Rank|
|3||Las Vegas, NV||59.19||32||17||1|
|6||St. Louis, MO||56.04||28||20||16|
|8||New Orleans, LA||55.38||20||27||26|
|10||San Diego, CA||55.10||76||1||34|
|19||Corpus Christi, TX||51.94||2||62||95|
|20||Oklahoma City, OK||51.79||15||66||33|
|22||San Antonio, TX||51.67||10||43||76|
|26||St. Petersburg, FL||50.93||56||36||13|
|30||Fort Wayne, IN||50.31||4||63||93|
|31||Colorado Springs, CO||50.20||51||37||31|
|33||Fort Worth, TX||50.14||38||21||90|
|37||El Paso, TX||49.27||17||73||58|
|42||North Las Vegas, NV||48.48||47||75||10|
|45||Kansas City, MO||47.88||23||89||32|
|50||Virginia Beach, VA||47.28||43||49||79|
|51||Baton Rouge, LA||47.24||44||45||77|
|52||Los Angeles, CA||47.08||92||13||23|
|59||Jersey City, NJ||46.31||81||24||29|
|61||New York, NY||46.17||98||18||11|
|64||San Jose, CA||45.51||41||70||56|
|72||St. Paul, MN||44.07||55||86||39|
|80||San Francisco, CA||43.01||100||14||14|
|85||Long Beach, CA||41.71||94||44||42|
|92||Chula Vista, CA||39.93||87||55||69|
|98||Santa Ana, CA||36.93||97||40||96|
|99||San Bernardino, CA||36.56||82||93||63|
*No. 1 = Most Pet-Friendly
Ask the Experts
For the right reasons, pet ownership can be very fulfilling. But it also can bring about challenges, especially financial ones. For advice to aspiring pet owners, we asked a panel of experts to weigh in with their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What tips do you have for individuals and families looking to own pets without breaking the bank?
- In evaluating the best and worst cities for pet lovers, what are the top five indicators?
- What are the pros and cons of purchasing pet insurance? Do you recommend it?
- What measures can local authorities take in order to make their cities more pet-friendly?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine the most pet-friendly places in America, WalletHub compared the 100 most populated cities across three key dimensions: 1) Pet Budget, 2) Pet Health & Wellness and 3) Outdoor Pet-Friendliness.
We evaluated those dimensions using 25 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for pets and their owners. Data for metrics marked with an asterisk (*) were available at the state level only. For metrics marked with an asterisk (**), the square root of the population was used to calculate the population size in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
Finally, we determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample. Our sample considers only the city proper in each case and excludes cities in the surrounding metro area.
Pet Budget – Total Points: 25
- Veterinary Care Costs: Full Weight (~10.00 Points)
- Minimum Pet-Care Provider Rate per Visit: Half Weight (~5.00 Points)
- Dog Insurance Premium: Full Weight (~10.00 Points)
Pet Health & Wellness – Total Points: 50
- Veterinarians per Capita**: Full Weight (~3.51 Points)
- Pet Caretakers per Capita**: Full Weight (~3.51 Points)
- Animal Trainers per Capita**: Full Weight (~3.51 Points)
- Pet Businesses per Capita**: Full Weight (~3.51 Points)
- Dog-Friendly Restaurants per Capita**: Full Weight (~3.51 Points)
- Share of Pet-Friendly Hotels: Quarter Weight (~0.88 Points)
- Dog-Friendly Shops per Capita**: Full Weight (~3.51 Points)
- Pet Meetup Groups per Capita**: Full Weight (~3.51 Points)
- Doggie Daycare & Boarding Establishments per Capita**: Full Weight (~3.51 Points)
- Pet-Friendliness of Rental Market: Full Weight (~3.51 Points)
Note: This metric measures the share of pet-friendly rental units.
- Average Home Square Footage: Full Weight (~3.51 Points)
- Share of Single-Family Detached Homes: Full Weight (~3.51 Points)
- Share of Homes with One or Fewer Occupants per Room: Full Weight (~3.51 Points)
- Animal Shelters per Capita**: Full Weight (~3.51 Points)
- Strength of Animal Protection Laws: Full* Weight (~3.51 Points)
Note: This metric is based on the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s “Best & Worst States for Animal Protection Laws” ranking.
Outdoor Pet-Friendliness – Total Points: 25
- WalletHub “States with the Fewest Coronavirus Restrictions” Score: Triple* Weight (~8.82 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “States with the Fewest Coronavirus Restrictions” ranking.
- Weather: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Cities with the Best & Worst Weather” ranking.
- Dog Parks per Capita**: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Parkland as Share of City Area: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Walk Score: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Dog-Friendly Trails per Capita**: Full Weight (~2.94 Points)
- Dog Shows per Capita**: Half* Weight (~1.47 Points)
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Yelp.com, Zillow, WalkScore.com, RentPath, Pets Best Insurance Services, Council for Community and Economic Research, Center for Neighborhood Technology, Sittercity, BringFido, InfoDog, Trust for Public Land, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Meetup and WalletHub research.