Pet friendly cities are an important criteria for pet owners who are moving or are looking to connect with others in their area. We often think farm dogs have an idyllic life but are Canadian cities going to the dogs? Almost seven million canines1 live in this country, most of them in urban settings, and pet-friendly services and amenities seem to be popping up in record numbers. Canadian Dogs Annual wondered how our cities compare, from a canine point of view.
We used eight different criteria to rank each city, first assessing the numbers per capita. Criteria included the numbers of veterinarians, pet sitters, trainers, and pet supply retailers, as well as pet-friendly accommodations, pet-friendly restaurants, dog parks or beaches and air quality in each city. Criteria was ranked per category, and then weighted from one to five, based on importance, before the final data was run through the program. Needless to say, it took weeks of dedicated research, but we’re pleased to present the final results, which take us literally from coast to coast.
1. Kelowna, BC
“Top Dog” honours go to Kelowna, BC. Located on the eastern shore of Okanagan Lake, this city of 118,000 ranks in the top ten in four of our categories. Not surprising, since this lovely city combines the best of both worlds – all the attractions of an urban centre, with an abundance of nature at its doorstep, including pristine lakes, pine forests and sandy beaches. Along with having the best air quality out of all the Canadian cities we looked at, Kelowna ranked highly in the off leash dog park category. There’s even a brochure, complete with maps, available to download on the city website. Residents and dogs alike can enjoy the active lifestyle afforded by the temperate winter climate, and when a winery tour calls, Kelowna’s number two position for pet sitters means you’ll be able to find quality care for your favourite canine buddy.
2. Victoria, BC
British Columbia’s capital city, Victoria is home to Pacific Oceanfront communities, forests, sandy beaches, and wildlife. It’s the perfect spot for a dog to grow up, so it’s no surprise it ranked in the top ten in five of our categories, including first in the number of pet-friendly restaurants and accommodation per capita. Apparently veterinarians think it’s a great place to put down roots too, because it earned the number two spot in the country in that category. With many dog-friendly spaces to run and play, a vibrant downtown and an eight-month frost-free season, this historic city is a wonderful place for you and your canine companion.
3. Nanaimo, BC
Sporting the same name as the delicious holiday confection (locals say it originated here), Nanaimo’s natural beauty is matched only by its pet-friendly amenities. The harbour city’s spectacular waterfront is a great place to spend time with four-legged and two-legged friends alike. Centrally located on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo scored in the top five in three of our categories, including the number of dog parks, pet-friendly lodging and pet retailers. The city of 84,000 offers an array of cultural, culinary and shopping opportunities as well as access to nature, making it a great choice for urban dog lovers.
4. Vancouver, BC
As the largest city on our Top Ten list, Vancouver is the perfect place for serious city dwellers who also care about access to pet-friendly services. Arguably one of the world’s most stunning cities, for the more than 600,000 who call it home, Vancouver is multi-cultural hotspot that offers an active lifestyle and convenient amenities. Want to take your dog with you for dinner? No problem in Vancouver, where many restaurants are pet-friendly. And with a high number of pet retailers in the city, you’ll find it easy to buy Fido’s food, too. The city’s goal to be the greenest city in the world by 2020 also bodes well for our canine friends in the future.
5. Kingston, ON
The original capital of the province of Canada, Kingston sits between Toronto and Ottawa, where the mighty St. Lawrence River meets Lake Ontario. Steeped in history, this picturesque city, which boasts one of the best fresh-water harbours in North America, ranked strongly in many of our categories. With a good number of pet-friendly lodging choices and offleash dog parks, Kingston is a great city to visit with your dog, and it consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in Canada.
6. Guelph, ON
As home to the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College, it’s not surprising this city ranks third in the number of vets per capita. OVC is a hub for veterinary students and ground-breaking studies. For example, its Institute for Comparative Cancer Investigation – the first of its kind in Canada — provides cancer care and research to better understand, treat and prevent this disease.
Centered around the Speed River, Guelph also offers 1,000 hectares of parks and open spaces, including 70 km of trails, where you and your dog can go to exercise and enjoy the great outdoors.
7. Chilliwack, BC
Just over an hour east of Vancouver, Chilliwack is surrounded by mountains and two magnificent provincial parks. From hiking to camping, there’s plenty of wilderness for you and your best friend to discover.
There are lots of pet-friendly lodgings available in Chilliwack. And being so close to the west coast, the air quality is very good and the climate mild during the winter, with most precipitation falling as rain.
Chilliwack is home to a thriving arts community, and opportunities for golfing and fishing abound. The city is also a springboard for day trips to neighbouring attractions, some of which can include your dog.
8. Kamloops, BC
Nestled in the gorgeous Thompson Valley in south central BC, Kamloops is a haven for pet-friendly lodging, coming in at second place in our ranking. As well as being an ideal destination for people who travel with their dogs, it’s also a fantastic locale for any pooch-lover to live, with its multitude of dog parks (it ranked third on our list) and excellent air quality.
Kamloops offers breathtaking scenery, situated amid spacious grasslands where the South and North Thompson Rivers come together. Outdoor activities abound both summer and winter, so there’s no shortage of things for you and your canine to do.
9. Peterborough, ON
Known at the “gateway to the Kawarthas”, Peterborough lies along the Trent-Severn Waterway and is home to the world’s largest hydraulic lift lock. As a jumping-off point to central Ontario’s cottage country, it’s a popular destination for those who love lakeside living and outdoor activities they can share with their dogs. More than a few Peterborough residents spend a large portion of the summer at their cottages – and of course, they take their canine companions with them!
The city is also fourth on our list for largest number of pet sitters per capita, and the shopping district offers a variety of pet-related retailers.
10. Charlottetown, PEI
If you’re looking for a locale with dog-friendly restaurants, Charlottetown is the top third destination on our list. The capital of PEI, and the largest city on the island, Charlottetown offers many additional highlights, such as an extensive waterfront development that includes walking trails and parks you can enjoy with your dog. If you’re an architecture and history buff, strolling with your pooch through the streets and surrounding environs will take you back to a quieter, more peaceful time – in fact, Charlottetown boasts almost a dozen national historic sites.