Tampa has a reputation for a laid-back attitude and a love of the outdoors, which makes it a great retirement destination for seniors with pets. In addition to dozens of eateries that welcome leashed pets on their patios, the area is home to more than a dozen dog parks and dog-friendly natural areas as well as active groups of dog and cat lovers who enjoy socializing and serving their community.
Dozens of pet-friendly senior communities
The Tampa Bay area is home to more than 40 assisted living communities that welcome pets. Among them are several SeniorAdvisor.com 2015 Best of Assisted Living Award winners as chosen by residents and their family and friends, including:
- Brookdale Countryside in Clearwater, near two golf courses and the north end of Safety Harbor.
- Grand Villa of Largo, located near the city’s Central Park and nature preserve as well as the city library.
- Grand Villa of Pinellas Park, convenient to shopping, golf, and Sawgrass Lake Park.
Many other pet-friendly communities are located all around the bay, from St. Petersburg to Tampa itself.
“Barks and recreation” destinations around Tampa
The city of Tampa takes its dog-friendly status seriously. The self-described “barks and recreation” division of the parks department offers a total of 9 city-run offleash dog parks, including 2 seaside locations at Davis Islands and Picnic Island Park. Locals recommend bringing your own shade, such as an umbrella or a broad-brimmed hat, to the beach parks.
Hillsborough County operates 2 dog parks in Tampa as well as in Apollo Beach, Lutz, and Seffner. Of these, the most popular is the 5-acre fenced Logan Gate Dog Park, which has shade shelters, water fountains for people and pets, dog showers, and separate play spaces for big and little dogs. The Apollo Beach location has agility equipment available in its large-dog area. Mango Dog Park in Lutz features puppy pools for cooling off.
The state park at Honeymoon Island features a pet beach and walking trails through natural areas. Dogs must be on a 6-foot leash in these areas. Before you make the drive to the Gulf shore island off Dunedin, check for trail and road closures on the park’s website. Pack sunscreen, walking shoes appropriate for a rocky beach, and the daily admission fee, which ranges from $4 for a single-occupant car to $8 for a car carrying up to 8 passengers.
Workouts with the pack
A unique fitness option at Picnic Island’s dog park is Saturday morning Barkfit classes for people and pups. The self-paced classes are led by a personal trainer and dog trainer and are designed for people at all levels of fitness. Each class ends with yoga and playtime for the dogs.
More outdoor options for active seniors and energetic dogs are agility, swimming, and other classes. Courteous Canine offers classes in Lutz. If you’d rather beat the heat indoors, the Dog Training Club of Tampa offers agility, freestyle, obedience, and other classes in a huge air-conditioned space in northwest Tampa.
Cool options for cat lovers
Lest you think Tampa has gone entirely to the dogs, there are plenty of activities around town for cat fanciers, too. The Skyway Cat Club of Tampa Bay regularly hosts cat shows with top cats from around the US, works with local Girl Scout troops and other young cat-owners to help them exhibit their pets, and throws an annual beachside cookout for members and exhibitors. There are also several cat rescue and feral cat support groups that offer cats for adoption and volunteer opportunities for cat lovers.
With so many resources, cat and dog owners in the Tampa Bay area can make themselves at home, stay fit, and make new friends together while enjoying the sunny Florida climate.
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