More and More pets now than ever are now joining their parents on family vacations these days. Travel to and from the UK is not easy but if you have a small dog and are willing to travel via France then getting to America with your animal in the cabin with you is possible.
Poppy our founding dog and mascot in the PetLondon logo is fortunate to have spent much time in Florida where her Daddy is from and would like to share with you some of her top tips for vacationing with your pet in this sunny paradise. Here are a selection of her top five favourite things about spending time in the Sunshine State.
- Dog Strollers are the Norm and Dogs are Welcome to Shop
Chances are you will want to partake in some retail therapy during your trip. Our top recommendation is the Town Centre Mall in Boca Raton. Its never too crowded and has a good selection of shops. One thing you will quickly notice if you visit any mall in Florida is that if you take a second look at all those strollers rolling past you, probably about 75% of them will contain not the usual two-legged infants but some very adorable four-legged friends. It seems the general policy is that so long as the pet is being carried or is in a stroller then they are very welcome in the shops.
Over the years, Poppy has owned a selection of strollers and here she is in her three-wheeler. The nice thing for Poppy is she can see where she is going, interact with people and then when she has had enough, there is plenty of room to curl up and go to sleep in peace and in her own private space. Its also got a handy storage space underneath to hold all the shopping and even a cup holder for your cappuccino!
Whilst strollers can of course be used in any country, if you have ever used one in the UK you are probably used to a lot of looks of surprise and shock. In the USA you will fit right in and be amongst many others using the same mode of transport for indoor shopping!
Here are a selection we saw on one shopping trip to Town Centre; A West Highland Terrier, A Cavalier King Charles and Maltese, all enjoying a day of shopping with their pet parents.
Another really useful item for shopping malls is a pet sling. If you are just quickly nipping in then this is fast and easy to use. We spotted this really cute little guy in Shaper Image. He seemed to be really chilled and is just “Hanging Out”!
2. Dog Beaches are a blast
One of Poppy’s true zen moments in life occur when she is on the beach. There is something about the feel of sand underneath her paws and the smell of the fresh ocean breeze that seems such a far cry from pounding the urban pavements of Marylebone. Poppy who is not much of an athlete usually, will happily run and frolic in the sand for hours or enjoys just digging in and inhaling the ocean breeze.
Dogs are not allowed on all beaches in Florida so you will need to do some research but most areas have a designated patch of beach that you can use at certain times of day. Be aware of one important thing though, you may need to purchase day permit to use the beach for a day or a weekend which can normally be done at an office right next to the space.
Poppy’s favourite spot is the Dog Beach in Boca Raton (Spanish River Park 3001 North Ocean Blvd., Between Lifeguard Towers 18 and 20). It is not as busy as you would expect and we practically had the place to ourselves on her last visit. The one thing you do need to be aware of though is that at certain times of year there can be jellyfish right by the waters edge. This is the last thing you want your dog to step on or touch, so check carefully before letting them off lead. The beach is very wide so you can easily stay above the tidal line if needed.
If your dog is the type that will enjoy a swim then stay safe and make sure you bring a dog life jacket with you too.
3. Dog Parks are a lot of fun
Florida is very pet friendly with special dog parks in most areas. A quick google search will help you to find your closest one. Normally there are separate areas for small dogs and larger breeds so that you can safely let them off the lead to interact with some new friends as long as they are well socialised.
Our recommendation is the Joseph Scavo Park in Hallandale. It has recently been renovated. Its a nice place to enjoy the fabulous Florida weather and there are lots of activities to do including a fitness path and equipment for adults and a children’s playground.
There are always plenty of dogs around, especially at sunset and a very freindly community feel. Don’t forget your pick up bags, a water bowl (it can get very hot and you need to make sure your pet stays hydrated) and make sure your dog is up-to-date on all vaccinations before letting them interact with others.
4. Dog Menus are available
Another great thing about Florida is that the weather is so warm that you can dine outside at most places with your dog. Some restaurants even offer dog menus. Max’s Grill in Mizner Park is one of these places. You can select from a huge choice of dishes breakfast to dinner and a great brunch on Sundays.
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Your dog can choose from the Mizner Bark Menu, which ranges from a simple snack of some biscuits to a 8oz Filet Mignon.
When you are travelling its not always easy to prepare food for you dog, so this can come in especially handy.
You can also help your pup cool off on a hot day with a frozen peanut butter pupcake.
Poppy’s favourite is the “Chasing Chicken”.
Max’s Grill is located in Mizner Park, which is a nice place to stroll around for a few hours with shops, restaurants and a very luxurious movie theatre. It is always full of dogs so there will be plenty of new friends to meet.
5. Pet Products are everywhere
There are loads of pet product shops in Florida. You cannot drive more than a few blocks without coming across one. Whether its the mass chains like Pet Supermarket, grooming salons, dog health food shops or independent boutiques, you will find a great selection of items that are not available in the UK. Our top recommendation is the Dog Bar in South Beach.
Finally, we want to leave you with a serious HEALTH TIP! Florida struggles with Heartworms, something that is not commonly a problem or treated for in the UK. Any dog owner planning a vacation or trip to Florida with their pet should discuss Heatworm prevention with their veterinarian before the trip. Its very easy to handle with the correct preventative drops or tablets during your trip but something you need to be aware of.