Most and least pet-friendly cities

From American Pet Products Association

To many of us, pets are family — only furrier. It’s only natural, then, to seek out the places where these relatives of ours can enjoy the best quality of life. According to an American Pet Products Association survey, a record 65 percent, or 79.7 million, American households today own a pet.

And at one point, pet owners had access to only a handful of businesses that offered animal services and supplies. Big industry names such as Petco and PetSmart were the most familiar. Today, we spoil our pets in all kinds of ways, from gourmet pet food to luxury-hotel accommodations to — get this — pet “dating” services. Numerous new pet businesses, especially microenterprises, have cropped up in our neighborhoods to fill the demand of this growing “breed” of consumers. Check out WiG’s pet-section advertisers to find a locally owned specialty pet retailer or quality veterinarian near you.

Adding a pet to the family roster can strike a hard blow to the owner’s wallet. A litany of expenses, including licenses, grooming and medical care, can cost $235 to nearly $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 pet parents in mind, WalletHub’s number crunchers compared the creature-friendliness of the 100 largest cities across 19 key metrics. Its data set ranges from “minimum pet-care provider rate per visit” to “number of pet businesses per capita” to “pet-friendly restaurants per capita.” Ratings also are based on pet health and wellness and the number of outdoor pet friendly areas.

Madison ties with six other cities for first place for the number of dog parks per capita. The other cities are San Francisco, Portland, Las Vegas, Tampa, and Henderson, Nevada.

Overall, Madison ranks an impressive 22 on the list, while Milwaukee ranks 78. But Milwaukee has the fourth lowest veterinary-care costs.smiling pleased little dog is sleeping in an embrace with a toy

Best vs. Worst

• Stockton, California, has the lowest veterinary care costs, $32.92 per visit, which is 2.6 times lower than in New York, the city with the highest, $86.46 per visit.

• Orlando has the highest number of veterinarians per 100,000 residents, 65.6, which is 93.7 times higher than in Newark, New Jersey, which, with 0.7 percent, is the lowest.

• Orlando also has the highest number of pet businesses per 100,000 residents, 172.25, which is 20 times higher than in Newark, New Jersey, the city with the lowest, 8.61.

• St. Paul has the lowest dog insurance premium, $21.63 per month, which is 2.5 times lower than in New York, the city with the highest, $53.34 per month.

• Scottsdale has the highest number of animal shelters per 100,000 residents, 6.26, which is 21.6 times higher than in Detroit, the city with the lowest, 0.29.

• New Orleans has the highest number of pet-friendly restaurants per 100,000 residents, 21.44, which is 93.2 times higher than in Omaha, the city with the lowest, 0.23.

For the full report and to see where your city ranks, please visit: