Source: The Palm Beach Post (Extract)
Posted: September 29, 2023

Florida is a dog’s paradise. It’s walking weather all year round, there are beaches to romp on and, it turns out, lots of vacation accommodations. And that’s not just a ruff estimate.

Pet-advice site PetKeen.com analyzed all 50 states to see “how accommodating and friendly to pups they are” in 2023, and based on accommodations, recreational areas, services, large pet retailers and pet-based events, the Sunshine State is the best place to bring your pooch.

“Based on our categories and estimations, Florida swooped in and grabbed the number one most dog-friendly U.S. state in 2023 spot!” the site said. “If you’ve been searching for the perfect vacation spot to bring your pup, Florida has you covered.”

You’re not teaching this old dog any new tricks. In 2019, global vacation rental site Vacasa named Port St. Joe as No. 1 in pet-friendly destinations, and St. Augustine was in the top 10 Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations for 2021 from a survey by pet sales vendor Chewy.com. Naples was named a prime pet destination by Reviews.com in 2019. In this year’s U.S. News & World Report’s list of the 32 best dog-friendly beaches in the U.S., seven of them were in Florida. (Their favorite was Jupiter Dog Beach.)

Both California and Texas had us beat in the number of retailers and events (they’re bigger than we are), according to PetKeen, and California has more dog-friendly restaurants and parks. But Florida is far ahead of any other state in the number of dog-friendly vacation rentals and dog services. We welcome your canine, and we’ll help you take care of her.

Florida has more dog-friendly accommodations than any other state

Whether you’re traveling across the country or staying in-state, if you want to bring your dog along Florida is the place for you.

Florida doesn’t have as many dog-friendly long-term rentals (2,699, compared to California’s 3,141 and Texas’ 3,420) and both those states have more pet-friendly hotels than we do (2,510), but when it comes to vacation rentals we’re way ahead of the pack.

PetKeen found 27,632 vacation rentals in the state, far more than California’s 17.551 or Texas’ 13,725, giving us a grand total of 32,841 pet-friendly accommodations, the most of any state in the U.S.

Florida has more pet-based services than any other state

Once your pet is here, it’ll be well cared for. Despite a smaller population, Florida has more vet clinics, pet groomers and boarding & daycare facilities than anywhere else, and nearly as many training schools as California.

Florida has 473 vet clinics here, PetKeen found, more than California (224) and Texas (172) combined.

You’ll find it easier to keep your pup pretty with our 335 pet groomers (image-conscious California, surprisingly, has only 236; Texas has 174).

And if you need somewhere for your dog to stay temporarily, Florida has 243 boarding & daycare facilities compared to California’s 204 and 188 in Texas.

California has more training schools, though, 266 compared to our 215. Maybe California dogs need more training?

Florida is 2nd in most recreational areas for your dog

You’ll need things to do and places to go, and we have plenty.

Granted, we’re the runt of the litter here compared to our two nearest competitors. California and Texas both have more restaurants and cafes that welcome dogs — 8,667 and 5,151 respectively, compared to our 2,987 — and California has more dog-friendly parks (551) than we do (338). When it comes to things to do with your dog, Florida’s number of 1,018 activities is impressive and more than any other state, except for California, which has 1,755.

If you’re looking for somewhere to kick back and enjoy a meal with your canine companion, here are some spots in Palm Beach, Volusia and Flagler counties, Marion County, the Ocala area, Destin, Fort Myers and Cape Coral, and Pensacola,

We’re also lagging in the number of large pet retailers. There are 75 PetCo locations here, while California has 213. And they have 175 PetSmarts, compared to our 123. But we try harder.

We’re not tops in pet events, either. Pennsylvania took that one out of nowhere, with 69 dedicated dog events such as Pup Nights at PNC Park. In the top states PetKeen lists we’re tied for 4th with North Carolina with 33 dog events.

But, as PetKeen points out, “there are several beaches that you can bring your canine companion to, as well, so even if you’re planning on doing nothing but basking in the sun, your dog can also enjoy the sand and surf.”

If you want to hit the waves with a furry friend, check out these places in Panama City Beach, Indian River County, Southwest Florida, Volusia County (particularly Ponce Inlet), St. Augustine, St. Lucie County, Bay County and Neptune Beach east of Jacksonville. Just be sure to observe local ordinances on leashes and cleanup, and keep dogs away from sea turtles and their nests.

If the beach scene isn’t for you, take your dog for a walk along these amazing water views in Sarasota-Bradenton, shopping in St. Lucie County, or out for the many activities in Southwest Florida.

Overall, thanks to our strong showing across the board and our dominance in pup-friendly vacation spots and services for your happy mutt, Florida earned a treat for the top score in the U.S.

Well done, Florida. Good state!