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Traveling in Florida with your Dog

White dog on a raft in the water Traveling with your dog

                                                                              Photo Fiona Sunquist ©

Florida welcomes well-behaved dogs – and your dog will love Florida.  As always, the key is to plan ahead, so take a look at our tips below.

Many hotels, motels and bed-and-breakfasts accept pets, and some outdoor eateries will let your pet stay with you while you dine. 

Freeway and turnpike rest stops usually provide dog-friendly areas.  Orlando airport offers a private Bark/Park/Ride boarding and shuttle service. 

Pet lovers visiting Disney in Orlando can board the family cat or dog in a luxurious new facility at Best Friends Pet Care resort. Right next door to Disney, the pet facility can accommodate up to 270 dogs and 30 cats for daytime and overnight boarding. Dogs can attend camp, play in the water park or just relax and watching a flat-screened TV in air-conditioned comfort. There are several large areas for owners to sit, relax and watch their dogs play. Rates for dogs vary from $34 to $76 a night. Rates for cats are about $30 a night. Boarding facilities are also available for “pocket pets,” such as hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits and ferrets.

The pet resort is located across from the Port Orleans Resort at 2510 Bonnet Creek Parkway in Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830. More details are available at wdw.bestfriendspetcare.com or by calling 877-4-WDW-PETS.

Florida’s state parks will be happy to see your dog if you keep it on a 6’ lead.  Many cities have both public and private dog parks, although you may have to pay a fee in the private ones. You can call the city’s parks department in advance, to find out what facilities exist for dogs, and call the private parks to learn what their fees are.

Remember, you may walk a dog on-leash anywhere outdoors on public property that it is not specifically prohibited.

Above all, wherever you go, make sure that your pet wears a visible I.D. tag and its current license tag.  It’s also a good idea to keep proof of immunizations with you.

Dogs and Florida’s wildlife.

A few words of warning.  Firstly, we know you’ve come to enjoy Florida’s wildlife, so you’ll want to protect it.  That means making sure your dog does not chase shorebirds, for example, or disturb a nesting colony of terns, or dig near a turtle’s nest on the beach.

Secondly, Florida’s wildlife can be really wild.  Alligators can and do eat dogs.  Snake venom can and does kill pets.  The local papers regularly feature such stories.  Avoid such a fate for your own pet by taking sensible precautions.

  • Keep your eyes open, particularly at the edge of a lake or river.
  • Look for signposts that warn alligators are present.
  • Don’t throw sticks or balls into the water for your dog to retrieve.
  • Keep your ears open too – especially for the rattle of a rattlesnake.

The rattle of a diamondback rattlesnake is unmistakable, once you have heard it, but it takes a while to register what it is when you hear it for the first time.  Pygmy rattlesnakes, which also bite dogs, emit a different sort of rattle, a faint noise like a buzzing insect.

Further details

Florida Pets.  An excellent site, reliable and up to date, is floridapets.net the webmistress has links to pet-friendly lodging, parks, emergency preparedness and much, much more.  If you check only one site, make it this one.

Florida State Parks.  This site has all the details you’ll need if you visit the state parks, for dogs and for people: see the Florida State Parks web site.

Dog Friendly.  For fun places to play with your dog in Florida (and in the rest of the US and Canada), see dogfriendly.com

If you spend a lot of time travelling in Florida with your pet it is worth owning

The Dog Lover's Companion to Florida

This book covers places to play and where to stay with your dog throughout Florida and utilizes a rating system from the lowly fire hydrant to four paws ("nearing nirvana”).  The introduction has tons of useful information.  For instance, it mentions that a dog weight limit may be officially listed at many hotels, but regularly waived.  I've found that to be true.  It pays to call ahead (and be pleasant) as you inquire and possibly get the OK for your not-so-small dog. 

by Melanie Phillpot. Eagerpup.com




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Wildlife of Florida 2011
Wildlife of Florida 2011
Fiona Sunquist
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Lizards book cover
Wildlife of Florida: Lizards
Fiona Sunquist
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