Picture this: You’re sitting on a white sand beach, warm sun on your skin. Coconut-scented sunscreen wafts through the air. A splashing noise comes from the blue Gulf of Mexico. It’s your dog, happily retrieving his favorite ball from the water.
This could be your vacation, with a bit of planning.
There’s no reason to leave your four-legged friend behind when you vacation in Florida. From lodging that offers special pet beds to beaches with off-leash play to theme parks with nearby kennels, many places around the state accommodate visitors with pets. Many Florida state parks also permit leashed dogs
Lodging with your dog can be as rustic as a campground or as ritzy as, well, the Ritz Carlton. In places like Key West or Sanibel Island — where all beaches are open to leashed dogs — unique and funky pet-friendly accommodations are easy to find in various price ranges.
Most counties have their own tourism boards and many have specific pages on their websites about pet-friendly activities, restaurants and hotels. Visit Florida has lots of information at www.visitflorida.com/Pet_Friendly_Florida.
Here are some dog-friendly destinations around Florida, along with lodging advice and general tips for traveling here with pets.
While it might seem like you are in a remote area as you hike through jungle-like trails or play on deserted beaches with your dog, you’re actually never far from civilization in Florida. There’s usually a veterinarian, big-box pet store and pet-friendly hotel within a short drive. A quick Google search or sites like www.bringfido.com or www.dogfriendly.com can help locate them.
Most of the theme parks offer kennel services; make sure to bring your pet’s vaccination record along.
Other essentials for a Florida vacation with your dog: Drinking water, heartworm medicine and even sunscreen. With temperatures in the 90s in many Florida locations, dogs (and people) can easily become dehydrated. Specially-formulated sunscreen for dogs isn’t a bad idea, especially if your furry friend has a short, fair coat and pink skin.
Take shady breaks, put ice cubes in the water dish and let dogs sprawl on cool tiles. Never, ever, leave your dog in a car in Florida, even for a few minutes. Temperatures inside cars can heat up to 120 degrees and kill animals quickly.
Many beaches in Florida allow leashed dogs on the sand, but check first. In some places, you can receive a heavy fine. Dogs are welcome in many places at outdoor cafes and along pedestrian malls.
Another resource: The Dog Lover’s Companion to Florida: The Inside Scoop on Where to Take Your Dog by Sally Deneen and Robert McClure.