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More hotels opening their doors to dogs (and their owners)

Las Vegas hotels aren’t just for the whales. Now, more than ever, they are welcoming dogs, too.

About 75 percent of luxury, mid-scale and economy hotels allow pets, according to a 2016 study from the American Hotel and Lodging Association. Pet experts say travelers can expect more hotels to join.

“There is a nationwide trend in pet travel,” said Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer for the American Kennel Club. “Dogs are often treated like family members, so it’s no wonder people feel more comfortable traveling with their pets.”

The suite life

On Dec. 11, MGM Resorts International announced a new dog-friendly program across all its Las Vegas properties.

While seven of its properties had previously allowed dogs, its pet-friendly program was modified in early December to encompass all of them here.

According to Brian Lagomarsino, MGM’s director of hotel strategy, the company wanted to make the guest experience “more special” for dog-owning customers. Between January and early December 2019, about 14,000 reservations at its Las Vegas properties included dogs, Lagomarsino said.

“Dogs are a part of most of our guests’ families,” Lagomarsino said. “We want them to be comfortable bringing their pet on vacation with them.”

The updated dog-friendly program offers more dog relief areas, complimentary treats, a map of relief areas and other amenities. For $25, guests can hire a doggy concierge to check in on their pups and send photo updates via text. Concierges can also arrange dog-walking services through a preferred service provider. An upgrade to a dog-friendly MGM room costs between $50 and $175 per day per dog.

“You can meet other dogs and other pets there and hopefully share stories and conversations about your trip,” Lagomarsino said. “We hope that it draws more guests and more four-legged friends.”

California native Tammy Lee brings her English bulldog to Las Vegas once or twice a year. The two usually stay at Caesars Entertainment Corp. properties, which offer dog-friendly rooms through the company’s PetStay program.

“Traveling with pets is very rewarding and has allowed me to discover new hobbies. … I also have more courage to solo-travel,” Lee said. “I’ve never had any issues walking around the casinos and shops with my dog.”

When to leave Fido home

Lee said that with pet-friendly policies and supportive staffers at properties across the Strip, sharing her vacation with her dog is a breeze.

“If you plan on just gambling, watching sports and going shopping, bringing a pet to Vegas is easy,” she said. “For celebrations and long nights out, better to leave the dog at home.”

Klein said a dog would need to be well-trained and socialized to feel comfortable in a destination like Las Vegas. He recommended that owners bring along a comfort blanket and toy and keep their dog’s food and water routines consistent.

“Dogs enjoy the comfort of home, so taking them out of their comfort zone can be a bit nerve-wracking for them,” he said. “The noise and stimulus overload may not be in a dog’s best interest.”

John Howe, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, recommended that owners bring only pets that are crate-trained.

“You can’t leave them loose in the room where the maid can’t come in. … The pet could run out,” he said. “(If) they’re not used to it, they’re going to be crying and howling the whole time.”

He also said pet owners should take the time to plan out their trips with pets. That includes making sure their dog’s vaccinations are up to date and finding a nearby veterinarian in case there’s an emergency.

Properties’ policies

Pet policies vary across Las Vegas resorts, and most are limited to dogs.

Boyd Gaming Corp. spokesman David Strow said the company does not have a standard pet policy in place but has a few properties across the country that permit pets, including North Las Vegas’ Aliante Hotel. The company “may consider expanding this amenity to other properties in the future,” he said.

Guests at any of Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s nine Las Vegas properties can bring up to two dogs, each weighing no more than 50 pounds. They must be in a crate or kennel when left unattended in a room but can walk through designated common areas on a leash. Spokeswoman Chelsea Ryder said rates vary by resort.

Wynn Resorts Ltd. allows only service animals in its Las Vegas properties. Spokespeople for Las Vegas Sands Corp. did not answer a request for comment, and a representative of Red Rock Resorts Inc. declined to comment.

“It seems as though with the number of people traveling with their dog that more hotels might soon adopt pet-friendly policies,” Klein said.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates The Venetian and Palazzo.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

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