Urban Dwellers: Keeping Your Pets Safe In The City

Although many of us might dream of living in a quiet suburban setting with a large garden, quiet neighborhoods, and sleepy streets, the reality is that for most of us, this is very much a far cry from how we will live most of our lives.

In fact, according to recent figures released by the US Government Census Bureau, around 80.7% of the US population lives in urban areas. This means that in the US, just shy of 220 million Americans live in urbanized areas, while the rural population tops just over 54 million.

Although urban living is a fact of life for most Americans, it is often thought that these settings are somehow incompatible with pet ownership. This is in spite of the fact that Americans are some of the most enthusiastic pet owners, with around 70% of US households owning a pet.

Despite these figures, there is still a belief amongst some that urbanized settings are either incompatible with pet ownership or make it difficult to the extent that it is not worth the effort.

While it might be true that there are important factors to consider before adopting a pet if you live in a city, this does not necessarily mean that the two are incompatible. In fact, quite the opposite is true.

The benefits of urban living and pet ownership

Even though there are admittedly some limitations to city life when you have a pet, provided the appropriate precautions are taken, this setting can be beneficial for both pet owners and pets. Some of these benefits include:

  • Veterinary care access: Compared to rural settings where vets and vet care shortages are common, cities often have an overabundance of veterinary care options. Particularly in large towns and cities, you will more than likely have a range of readily available veterinary care options, including specialist and emergency care.
  • More pet-focused businesses: Big towns and cities offer everything from grooming salons and pet hotels to pet-friendly cafés and boutique shops. These give you plenty of opportunities to spoil your pet!
  • More socialization: With so many pet parks, dog-friendly patios, and pet-friendly businesses on offer, it is incredibly easy to encourage your pets to meet other animals of their species and their breed. Socialization is incredibly important for helping your pet learn to behave around other animals and people. This is made much easier in urban settings!
  • Meet other pet owners: In much the same way that cities offer more socialization opportunities for pets, this is also true for their owners! Living in cities, you can meet other pet owners at dog parks or pet-friendly cafés and bars. It is incredibly easy to connect with fellow pet lovers and build lasting friendships.
  • Pet-sitter access: Another perk about living in a large town or city is that it is much easier to access dog walkers, cat sitters, and any other pet-minder you might need! And regardless of whether you need someone to check in on them during the work day or to look after them while you travel or enjoy a vacation, these services are simply more readily available in urban settings!

Keeping your pets safe in cities

Despite these many clear benefits, there are some precautions you should take when caring for your pet in urban settings. And while none of these are necessarily unique to urban environments, they become more important to be mindful of in large towns and cities.

If you are looking after a pet in a busy urban environment, you should take care to:

  • Keep fully up to date on their annual vaccinations and boosters, particularly as the environments they are exposed to are so filled with other animals!
  • Ensure you do not leave your dog or cat unsupervised in the street. While leashed training for dogs and cats is fine, leaving them unsupervised exposes them to the risk of being hit by cars or other vehicles.
  • Keep your pets on year-round parasite-prevention medication. The risk of inadvertently consuming parasites is increased in busy urban settings.
  • Maintain full awareness of local wildlife, vehicles, and other people when taking your pets on leashed walks.
  • Make sure that you have accommodation that is suitable for pet ownership. If you are renting, ensure your landlord is fully on-board with you having a pet.

The bottom line: should this put you off adopting?

As noted by the Humane Society of New York, adopting a pet comes with several benefits for both the individual and society at large. Not only does it help to save animals’ lives, but it also lets you experience the joy of pet ownership.


However, the decision to adopt a pet should not be taken lightly. And this is even more true when living in an urban environment.

Despite this, pet ownership and urban living are by no means incompatible. Provided you take the appropriate precautions and are ready to deal with everything that pet ownership involves, there is no reason why you can’t provide a fulfilling and meaningful life for your pet.

City living is full of excitement and adventure. And by keeping in mind the above, there is no reason why your pet can’t also enjoy the best of everything it has to offer.

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"The Clark Legacy Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark and their work," this post is made in partnership with Harlem Cultural Archives, get more at Harlem History.

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