Pets are big business — in fact, 90.5 million U.S. pet-owning households spent $136.8 billion last year on their animal companions, a new study called 2023’s Most Pet-friendly Cities reports.

To determine where Americans’ animal companions can enjoy the best quality of life without breaking the bank, WalletHub compared the creature-friendliness of the 100 largest cities across 23 key metrics. The data set ranges from minimum pet-care provider rate per visit to pet businesses per capita to walkability.

Most Pet-friendly CitiesLeast Pet-friendly Cities
1. Scottsdale, AZ91. Detroit, MI
2. Tampa, FL92. Buffalo, NY
3. St. Petersburg, FL93. Chula Vista, CA
4. Las Vegas, NV94. Boston, MA
5. Colorado Springs, CO95. New York, NY
6. Birmingham, AL96. Laredo, TX
7. Atlanta, GA97. Durham, NC
8. Raleigh, NC98. Santa Ana, CA
9. St. Louis, MO99. Dallas, TX
10. Portland, OR100. Baltimore, MD

Key Stats

  • Columbus, Ohio, has the lowest average veterinary care costs (annual exam), $40.13, which is 2.7 times lower than in Plano, Texas, the city with the highest at $109.03.
  • Miami has the most veterinarians (per square root of the population), 0.3585, which is 99.6 times more than in Newark the city with the fewest at 0.0036.
  • Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, Indiana, have the lowest monthly dog-insurance premium, $39.75, which is 2.7 times lower than in New York, the city with the highest at $108.83.
  • Scottsdale has the most pet businesses (per square root of the population), 0.4912, which is 9.4 times more than Newark, the city with the fewest at 0.0524.

Tips for Individuals and Families Looking to Own Pets

“There are pets available for every budget, but keep in mind that all will have expenses associated with food, toys or housing, and veterinary care. Learning how much those expenses might be in advance and planning for them can be very helpful. Owners can save some money each month to cover the unexpected or larger expenses spreading out the cost over time. Rabbits, small rodents, and birds may also be more affordable pets with lower daily care and veterinary expenses. Dogs and cats are the most common pets. While puppies and kittens are adorable, shopping for an adult pet will also likely mean they have had their initial vaccines and are sterilized. Adopting your new pet from a shelter or rescue will also provide pets who are vaccinated and sterilized, and adoption rates are often lower than breeders or pet stores. Also, consider what breed you will be getting; some are more likely to have or develop serious health issues than others,” said Jeanette O’Quin, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, DABVP, associate professor at Clinical, Ohio State University.

“Adopt, adopt, adopt! Many animals in shelters and rescues need permanent, loving homes, and the cost to adopt an animal from a shelter or rescue is significantly less than purchasing an animal from a pet store or breeder. Many animals in pet stores were born in commercial dog breeding facilities where they were kept in inhumane conditions, housed in crowded, filthy cages, taken too early from their mothers, and unsocialized. and only adopt domestic companions. Not only are exotic or wild animals more expensive to purchase and maintain, but more importantly, they deserve to live in their natural surroundings. Once a member of the family, the companion will need to be properly fed and cared for. Food, treats, and toys need not be overly expensive – it is amazing how much fun a cardboard box can be! Also, they will need routine veterinary care and vaccinations to maintain their health, which will help them avoid high-cost emergency services. Remember, the most important thing your companion requires costs nothing – a lifelong commitment to love them!,” said Joan Schaffner, law professor and faculty co-director, of Animal Legal Education Initiative, The George Washington University Law School.

 Why is Pet Ownership in the U.S. Declining?

“More American households rent than a decade or two ago. (currently 36% according to Pew 2021 data). Increasingly, rental agencies do not allow pets or have strict weight and size limits. Those that do allow pets may have high pet fees. These fees, on top of high rental prices, can prevent someone from wanting to own a pet. Other costs associated with pet ownership can be a hurdle. There are financial costs such as medical bills (which can be particularly onerous) and the costs of food, grooming, a pet sitter if needed, and regular vet checkups. Then there is the cost of time. Pets need and deserve attention. Finally, a decline in pet ownership can be a downward spiral. People who did not grow up with a pet may not know how to care for one, and the hurdle of learning can outweigh an interest in pet ownership. Over a few generations, the decline in pet ownership becomes precipitous,” said Ron Broglio,  director, of Institute Humanities Research; institute director and professor, of English; institute director and professor, of literature, Arizona State University.

“Many Generation Z individuals and other people are prioritizing life balance. It is a lot of responsibility to care for a pet, and it is a long-term commitment. Pet ownership requires lifestyle changes, and it is expensive to care for a pet. With a pet, it is difficult to make spontaneous changes, stay at the workplace late, or take a last-minute trip without your pet. Housing options may also be limited by no-pet policies. For those looking for maximum flexibility and/or cost-cutting, pet ownership is often not desired,” said Jessica Rubin, J.D., professor, University of Connecticut, and Jane Shaw D.V.M., Ph.D., professor, Colorado State University.

Measures Local Authorities Can Take for Pet-friendly Areas

“Green spaces are a blessing for humans and animals alike. And perhaps the easiest and most visible thing is to celebrate pets and their owners. This can be an annual dog walk or city officials owning and talking about their pets. (It humanizes the city authorities and promotes pet ownership.) Pets can promote community. Personally, I have met more neighbors and gotten to know them better by meeting them on my daily dog walks or talking to them about their pet cats or pet tortoises. And, of course, encouraging businesses to allow pets is a big step forward. There is a vast amount of research showing the mental and physical benefits of owning pets. Communities, owners, and animals all benefit from human-animal companionship,” Broglio said.

“Invest in walking paths, create dog parks, designate leash-free areas, plant trees along sidewalks, encourage retail establishments and housing providers to welcome pets, and provide funding to the local humane society, ” Rubin and Shaw said.

Source: WalletHub