Pet Connection by Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker

Pet-Friendly Vacay

33 places to share your vacation with your dog

By Kim Campbell Thornton

Andrews McMeel Syndication

Whether your plans this year include a vacation or a staycation, there’s no reason to leave your dog out of the fun. Dog-friendly spots abound across the United States and include botanical gardens, breweries, festivals, hikes, museums and more. No matter where you’re located, there’s a good chance you’ll be within driving distance of at least one of these activities. Assume that dogs must be leashed unless informed otherwise. Check AirBnB, FlipKey and VRBO for pet-friendly rentals.

“Barkansas” is filled with natural wonders for dogs -- and their humans -- to explore, including Lake Wilson Park south of Fayetteville and Lake Ouachita Vista Trail near Mount Ida. For a more manicured experience, visit Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs or the 1886 Crescent Hotel and Spa in Eureka Springs, with 15 acres of gardens and hiking trails. In Little Rock, you and your dog can take self-guided tours of the Arkansas River Trail, Arkansas State Capitol Grounds and Arkansas Civil Rights Heritage Walk.

It’s hard to find a place in California that isn’t dog-friendly. In Laguna Beach, enjoy outdoor dining at Brussels Bistro or Watermarc. In summer, take your dog to Laguna’s beaches before 8 a.m. or after 6 p.m. The rest of the year, leashed dogs can play all day. In Santa Barbara, visit the botanical gardens or the Sunday art sale and walk.

Visiting Chicago? Sign up for Mercury’s 90-minute Canine Cruise, a floating history and architecture tour of the city with dog-friendly highlights such as the oldest fire hydrant in the city and the park with the most squirrels. Departs Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 7.

In Kentucky, Shaker Village and Kentucky Horse Park are two top attractions that allow leashed dogs. Shaker Village has pet-friendly trails and overnight rooms. At KHP, pets are allowed on the grounds, in the museum lobby and at restaurant outdoor seating.

Maine attraction? In Bar Harbor, you and your dog can cruise Frenchman Bay on the Margaret Todd schooner (go midday for fewer people) or explore Acadia National Park.

If you’re summering in Nantucket, take Fido on a private charter with Endeavor Sailing Excursions or take him kayaking at Francis Street Beach. Afterward, kick back with a brew at dog-friendly Cisco Brewers.

Dogs can’t appreciate the art inside Kansas City, Missouri's, Nelson-Atkins Museum or Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, but they are allowed on the grounds, dotted with sculptures. In St. Louis, look for a paw print logo at shops and restaurants to identify those that are dog-friendly. Enjoy Yappy Hour at Anheuser-Busch Biergarten every day the outdoor garden is open.

Asheville, North Carolina, is home to majestic Biltmore Estate on 220 acres. Explore the grounds with your dog, then settle him in the on-site kennel while you tour the house. In Wilmington, start your morning at Java Dog Coffee House and finish the day with dinner on the deck at The George restaurant on the Riverwalk.

Hit the water with your dog in Bend, Oregon, where you can float the Deschutes River by kayak, paddleboard or other craft that holds your dog. Other dog-friendly activities include riding the Mount Bachelor Pine Marten chairlift up to hiking trails. In Portland, visit the world-famous Rose Garden or sign up for a Portland Food Cart Tour. Dine at Tin Shed Garden Cafe, where your dog gets fed, too.

In Oklahoma, dogs are welcome at Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve, a 3,700-acre working ranch in Bartlesville with bison, elk, longhorn cattle and more.

Leashed dogs can attend shows at Northern Sky Theater in Fish Creek, Wisconsin, presenting family-friendly musicals under the stars through August.

Don’t see your city or state here? Future features will focus on pet-friendly breweries and wineries and winter destinations, whether you’re looking for warm or cold weather. Bark voyage!


Appetite may

signal illness

Q: My pet always eats well, and lately he’s been eating more than usual. I’ve always thought that a good appetite means he’s healthy, but something just seems off about him. Should I be worried?

A: We all like to see our pets enjoy their food, but eating a lot isn’t always a sign of good health. It’s normal for pets to have a big appetite when they’re growing or have an active lifestyle. Pregnant or nursing animals also eat more food than normal. But an increased appetite in the absence of those situations can be cause for concern.

Puppies and kittens with a pot-bellied appearance who are eating but losing weight may have an infestation of intestinal parasites such as roundworms. A fecal exam will tell the tale.

Pets who eat ravenously and still want more but are losing weight may have a health problem. Those signs can indicate diabetes mellitus in dogs and cats; hyperthyroidism in cats; or exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI, for short), in which the body has difficulty digesting food and absorbing nutrients.

Increased appetite accompanied by seizures can signal insulinoma, a pancreatic tumor. An unexplained appetite increase along with hair loss and increased thirst and urination can indicate a condition called Cushing’s disease.

If your pet has any of these signs, your veterinarian will conduct a physical exam and ask questions such as what your pet eats, how often, how long since you first noticed the problem and whether you’ve noticed other changes in your pet’s daily routine and habits. She may recommend screening tests such as various types of blood work or a urinalysis. Once the problem is determined, your pet can be treated. -- Dr. Marty Becker

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Bird brain?

Think again

-- Why are parrots so smart? Canadian neuroscientists have discovered that the brainy birds have a neural circuit that transfers information between the cortex and the cerebellum. Called the medial spiriform nucleus (SpM), it’s similar to an area of the brain in primates, the pontine nuclei, that performs the same function. “This loop between the cortex and the cerebellum is important for the planning and execution of sophisticated behaviors,” said Doug Wylie, the study’s co-author and professor of psychology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Parrots have an SpM that is two to five times larger than that in other types of birds. The paper, “Parrots have evolved a primate-like telencephalic-midbrain-cerebellar circuit,” was published earlier this month in the journal Scientific Reports.

-- One of the final vestiges of ancient American dogs is a type of cancer: canine transmissible venereal tumor (CTVT). Analysis of DNA from the remains of 71 ancient dogs located in North America and Siberia found that they were a distinct population, unlike modern and ancient Eurasian dogs. Little of their DNA remains in modern dogs, based on DNA analysis of 5,000 dogs, including village dogs, from North and South America. The closest detectable link to indigenous American dogs is CTVT, a contagious cancer clone derived from a single dog who lived some 8,000 years ago. Scientists speculate that the dogs died of CTVT or from infectious diseases that arrived with European dogs.

-- If your cat keeps you up at night, feed into his night-owl personality by giving a meal before bedtime. Cats like to eat at night and typically rest afterward. Or set timed feeders to open during the night, at whatever time your cat typically awakens you, or early in the morning so you can sleep in. Set out food-filled puzzles or hide treats that your cat can hunt for at night. Soon you should be sleeping through the night. -- Dr. Marty Becker, Kim Campbell Thornton and Mikkel Becker


Pet Connection is produced by a team of pet-care experts headed by "The Dr. Oz Show" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and award-winning journalist Kim Campbell Thornton. They are affiliated with and are the authors of many best-selling pet-care books. Joining them is dog trainer and behavior consultant Mikkel Becker. Dr. Becker can be found at or on Twitter at DrMartyBecker. Kim Campbell Thornton is at and on Twitter at kkcthornton. Mikkel Becker is at and on Twitter at MikkelBecker.