How Dog Friendly is Miami, Really?

Jackie Gutierrez-Jones
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No bones about it: Miami pooches aren’t exacting ruff-ing it in the Magic City. Our overabundance of sunny days, dog parks, vets and puppy supply shops has earned us a spot on Reward Expert’s most pet-friendly U.S. vacation destinations list and a ranking on WalletHub’s most pet-friendly cities of 2016. And pet owners here would agree—their dogs have it pretty great.

According to a report by the Miami Downtown Development Agency, over 77% of households in Miami-Dade County are pet owners, with dogs accounting for most those numbers. As of 2016, that translated to over 335,763 homes with a dog—that’s quite a pack.

From miles of sandy shoreline for daily romps in the sun to restaurants that roll out the red carpet for your furry dining companion, it’s no wonder the city’s residents love having a pup here. Need more convincing? Here are four reasons why locals love having a dog in Miami.

Parks

Coconut Grove ranks as one of Miami’s most dog-friendly neighborhoods. Two of the city’s best dog parks are located there: Blanche Park and David T. Kennedy. Blanche Park was recently renovated by the city and it shows. Astroturf prevents mud and unsavory little critters from coating your pup’s fur, with sculptures and fountains dot this off-leash oasis with a solid At David T. Kennedy, the dog park features two sections—one for smaller breeds and the other for larger pooches—and offers up an agility course and tranquil bay views.

In Miami, there are only two spots where your pooch can go off-leash and get frisky in the sand—Haulover Park is one of those places. Your furry companion can romp through sandy dunes and ocean waves before heading over to the fenced-in dog park for some drier fun.

Dog-friendly restaurants

The Kush Hospitality group’s restaurants (LoKal, Kush and The Spillover) are all about the city’s four-legged residents. The owners’ French bulldogs are tasked with “rigorously testing the doggy menu, approving of doggy parking stations, and wearing many important titles such as head of security and official LoKal mascots.” That translates to a drool-worthy dog menu with dishes like Marmaduke’s Meatloaf and Yeyo’s Chicken & Rice paired with Bowser Beer—a non-alcoholic beer from Tampa made just for dogs.

Shake Shack is another popular option for Fido and friends. The burger chain has two locations in Miami-Dade County and welcomes dogs of all kinds for a refreshing “Pooch-ini” (vanilla custard topped with peanut butter sauce and dog biscuits) on their patio. On the run? Snag their “Bag ‘O Bones” filled with Bocce Bakery-made dog biscuits before you head home.

Pet-friendly lodging

The Kimpton hotels in Miami, including the Epic and the Surfcomber, go above and beyond for the four-legged set. All furry friends are welcome no matter their weight or size. Here, your canine companion gets a plush doggie bed, toys, food, water bowls, mats and nightly turndown with treats—they’re even welcome to attend the nightly wine reception.

Over on South Beach, the Loews provides pets with name tags, bowls and mats, special in-room dining menus with gourmet pet-friendly dishes created by Loews chefs and pet sitting services that are perfect for when the Miami nightlife tempts you away from the room.

Shopping

Retail therapy is best with a friend—why not take your pup? Bal Harbour Shops, the Shops at Merrick Park and the newly opened Brickell City Centre are all dog-friendly outdoor malls that happily welcome your leashed pooch to window shop right alongside you.

What’s missing?

While Miami has some serious wag-factor, there’s one spot the city needs to work on: overcrowding at the shelters. But with new initiatives and targeted outreach promoting adoption, the city is working hard to make sure every four-legged furball has a friend.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on August 9, 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Jackie Gutierrez-Jones

Jackie Gutierrez-Jones is a freelance editor and writer for UrbanDaddy Miami and Vivala. Her food, drink and cultural musings can be found in the Observer, Eater Miami, MIA Connections, Liquor.com, Citizine.tv and Onboard Media. When she’s not eating the latest and greatest tacos around town or weighing in on the merits of a frozen negroni, she can be found attempting to wrangle down her toddler at various establishments throughout the city.
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