Luxury hotels: Pampered people have pampered pooches. For small dogs who need luxury (under 25 pounds) try Ritz Carlton hotels in Sarasota, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Miami Beach. Non-refundable pet fees vary, but hover in the $250 range. The Mandarin Oriental in Miami — a swanky hotel frequented by celebrities like Jennifer Anniston — also accepts pets up to 25 pounds. The Mandarin sells dog T-shirts bedazzled with Swarovski crystals in its gift shop and the concierge can book doggie boot camp appointments and dog massages.
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 http://www.bringfido.com or http://www.dogfriendly.com can help locate them.
Larger theme parks such as Busch Gardens in Tampa offer kennel services; make sure to bring your pet’s vaccination record along.
Drinking water, heartworm medicine and even sunscreen. With temperatures in the 70s and 80s in many Florida locations during the winter, 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.
Heartworm, a disease transmitted by mosquitoes, is endemic to Florida. Plan to visit a vet before your trip to get a heartworm test and pills to prevent infection.
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.