- Seattle, WA, and Madison, WI top the list due to high rankings in park-related metrics, like the number of dog parks and the park walkable access score.
- Lexington, KY, stands out among 100 cities with the most veterinary establishments per 100,000 residents, as well as the most pet-related occupations.
- In terms of overall park amenities, Washington, D.C. logs the best score, making it easy for both pets and their owners to spend time outdoors.
- Scottsdale, AZ, checks the largest share of pet-friendly apartments, with a whopping 98% of the total inventory welcoming furry roommates.
- There are currently 11 pet-friendly coworking spaces on the market in Miami, FL, representing 2.5 such workspaces per 100,000 residents.
Many decisive factors can guide the pin on the map when choosing a new city to call home. And, while most of them have to do with jobs, families or amenities, for many, a comfortable place for their pets is crucial. With pet ownership in the U.S. having increased significantly over the last three decades, it seems like the proverbial question is no longer “who” let the dogs out, but rather, about “where.”
For this reason, we created an index to determine the best cities for pets and their owners, as analyzed through relevant metrics, such as the number of: veterinary and pet care establishments; days with what is considered ideal weather for pets; pet-friendly coworking spaces; and pet-related occupations. Additionally, we also considered one’s own accommodations, as observed through the average apartment square footage and the number of pet-friendly apartments, as well as the number and quality of the parks in each city.
Pets in Seattle Are Luckiest in the Nation – The City Scores High on Park Amenities & Pet-Friendly Coworking Spaces
1. Seattle, WA – Total Points: 76.2/100
As the ultimate pet hotspot, Seattle ranked consistently high across multiple metrics. Specifically, the Emerald City had a great score in walkable access to parks, with almost all residents living within a half-mile walking distance of a park. Similarly, despite its reputation as a rainy place, Seattle scored high in terms of days with ideal temperatures for pets. The housing situation was also made easy here for pet owners, with 93% of rental apartments in the city being pet-friendly. Plus, Seattle also stood out for working professionals who want to keep their four-legged friends close, as it checked the second-highest number of pet-friendly coworking spaces per 100,000 residents (2 out of a total of 15). This placed it behind only Miami, which led this category with 2.5 such spaces.
2. Madison, WI – Total Points: 74.8/100
It’s not a bad thing to live a “dog’s life” when in Madison, WI. Sandwiched between two lakes, dog owners here can take advantage of the city’s numerous parks as more than 95% of residents live close to a green space. In fact, Madison has 11 dog parks throughout the city – a high number given its smaller size, and it was also one of the top cities in terms of air quality. At the same time, this charming Wisconsin spot also had plenty of veterinary and pet care establishments, as well as a plethora of pet-related occupations that ranged from veterinarians or assistants to trainers and pet caretakers. In fact, Madison was only outdone in this category by Lexington.
3. Lexington, KY – Total Points: 74.6/100
Lexington had the highest number of vet and pet care establishments, considering its size — almost 44 —, which, naturally, also generated a high number of pet-related occupations. Here, there were a whopping 3,300 people engaged in such career opportunities, which, once again, caused Lexington to take the lead in this category. And, in great news for both pets and their owners: the city also boasted some of the largest apartment rentals, averaging nearly 1,150 square feet for $1,500 per month.
4. Portland, OR – Total Points: 74.4/100
With almost six dog parks per 100,000 residents and a total of 38 such parks in the city, Portland came in second in this category on a national level (after Boise, ID) and also scored high in terms of air quality. At the same time, coworking in Portland is made easy for pet owners, as they’re bound to find pet-friendly coworking spaces here (with nine spread throughout the city). However, given the rental budget, apartments in Portland come on the smaller size, at a mere 645 square footage. But, while this might make it challenging to own a Saint Bernard, other, smaller pets have all the best conditions here.
5. Des Moines, IA – Total Points: 71.4/100
Coming in fifth place on our list, Des Moines stood out due to its exceptional score in overall park amenities and also landed in fifth place in terms of trail miles. Not only that, but the air quality in Iowa’s capital was also one of the best among 100 cities, making outdoor activities a literal breeze. More great news for both pets and their owners was that a monthly rent of $1,500 would get residents in Des Moines an average apartment space of 1,121 square feet, which is plenty to fit a couple of pets … or more.
6. Colorado Springs, CO & Austin, TX – Total Points: 71.25/100
Colorado Springs and Austin tied for sixth place in our ranking. In Colorado Springs, the city's vast outdoor areas, parks, and green spaces are ideal for residents and, in most cases, their furry friends, as well. That’s because pet owners in Colorado Springs can easily access any pet care services, as the city had the third-most vet and pet care establishments per 100,000 residents (27.1) and a grand total of 207.
Meanwhile, pets — and, more specifically, dogs — are surely barking up the right tree if that tree is in Austin. Here, the overall quality of parks and green areas is prioritized through high spending coming from city hall. Housing was also a winning category for pet owners in Austin, as the city boasted one of the highest shares of pet-friendly apartments at over 95%. Even so, space could become an issue here for owners of multiple pets or large ones as the average size available for a monthly rent of $1,500 stood at only 713 square feet.
7. St. Louis, MO – Total Points: 71.20/100
St. Louis made our top 10 ranking due to great performances in multiple relevant metrics. More precisely, the city scored well in terms of its walkable access to parks, making it easy for owners to take their friends for a walk, regardless of their location. At the same time, owners can also easily accommodate their four-legged best friends in their lives and work activities, as the city claimed four pet-friendly coworking spaces available. Plus, St. Louis also scored high in terms of pet-friendly apartments, with more than 93% of the total apartment stock in the city welcoming furry roommates. Not only that, but living conditions are made easier here, as well: on average, St. Louis apartments boasted more than 1,000 square feet for a $1,500 monthly rent.
8. Denver, CO – Total Points: 69.6/100
Marking Colorado’s second entry on our list, Denver is also an ideal place for pets and their outdoor-loving owners due to its great score in the walkable access to parks category. Additionally, in terms of work life, Denver residents will also be happy to know that the city had the second-highest number of pet-friendly coworking spaces per 100,000 residents (two, from a total of 14), which was on par with Seattle and Atlanta. At the same time, there were almost 8,000 people engaged in pet-related occupations in Denver, which is great news for anyone interested in a career focused on furry friends, whether that’s veterinarian care, training, pet-sitting or something else.
9. Raleigh, NC – Total Points: 68.8/100
The City of Oaks stood out due to its high number of veterinary and pet care establishments, with a total of 332. Yet another perk for both pets and owners is that Raleigh scored highly for air quality and also took a top position in terms of park spending per capita, highlighting a clear interest and care toward parks and green areas around the city. But, perhaps the most influential metric for Raleigh was its high number of pet-related occupations. More precisely, the city stands near the top in this category, with a whopping total of almost 4,100 pet-related jobs.
10. Minneapolis, MN & Aurora, CO – Total Points: 68/100
Minneapolis and Aurora tie for 10th on our list. With great rankings across three out of five park-related indicators, Minneapolis is all about those pet-friendly outdoors. And, proximity to those spaces is no issue for residents, given that Minneapolis had a fantastic walkable score to parks with almost all residents living within a half-mile, walkable route of a green space. And, even more telling of the city’s interest in the quality of its outdoor areas was Minneapolis’ high park spending per capita — the second-best in our ranking.
Yet another Colorado city, Aurora is proof that pets live their best lives in the Centennial State. Not surprising given its vast and gorgeous outdoor areas, Aurora earned a solid score in walkable access to parks. However, it was the city’s status as the fifth place with the most pet-related occupations that helped boost its overall ranking, as here, almost 8,000 residents are engaged in such professions.
The remaining U.S. cities that made the top 20 best ones for pets and their owners are: Lincoln, NE (65.25); Louisville, KY (65.15); Richmond, VA (64.50); St. Paul, MN (64.10); Arlington, VA (63.90); Washington, D.C. (63.85); Omaha, NE (63.25); Atlanta, GA (63.10).
Coworking Alongside Four-Legged Friends Is Easiest in Miami, While Pets in Boise Have the Most Parks to Wiggle Their Tails In
While the leading cities for pets and their owners were determined by an aggregated score defined by 12 separate categories, certain cities stood out from the crowd in their particular best-performing metric. Here are the cities that outperformed 99 others in specific categories:
For our scoring method, we assigned an appropriate metric to quantify key metric analyzed and weighted them to reflect their significance in gauging the overall pet-friendliness of a city.
- Number of dog parks per 100,000 residents - 10% of the total index (Source: Trust for Public Land)
- Walkable park access - 10% of the total index - percent of residents who live within a half-mile walkable route of a park (Source: Trust for Public Land)
- Number of park/trail miles per 100,000 residents - 10% of the total index (Source: Trust for Public Land)
- Park acres per 1,000 residents - 5% of the total index (Source: Trust for Public Land)
- Park spending per capita - 5% of the total index (Source: Trust for Public Land)
- Share of pet-friendly apartments - 15% of the total index (RentCafe 2023)
- Average apartment size for $1,500 - 5% of the total index - the average square footage that renters can get in each city, for a monthly rent of $1,500 (RentCafe 2023)
- Number of veterinary & pet care establishments per 100,000 residents - 15% of the total index - includes veterinary clinics, pet care services and supporting activities for animal-related products (Source: U.S. Census)
- Number of pet-related occupations per 100,000 residents - 10% of the total index includes occupations such as veterinarians, assistants, trainers, caretakers, etc. (Source: BLS 2022)
- Median air quality index (AQI) - 5% of the total index – scores are indirectly proportional (Source: EPA 2022)
- Number of days with temperatures not suitable for pets - 5% of the total index – scores are indirectly proportional (Source: NCEI 2021)
- Number of pet-friendly coworking spaces per 100,000 residents - 5% of the total index (Source: CoworkingCafe)
- Data points were analyzed comparatively, with the extreme values within the data pool determining the highest and lowest possible scores for each metric.
- The 100 cities analyzed for this ranking are the locations considered in the park-related reports from Trust for Public Land.
- To determine the pet-friendly apartments metric, a filter was applied to reflect cities with a minimum of 40 apartments available on the market.
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