Posh for pets

Charlie, the hotel's director of pet relations, lounges at the registration desk of the Hotel Monaco in Alexandria, Va. Kimpton Hotels, including the Hotel Monaco in downtown Baltimore, aare know for being pet-friendly. (Kimpton Hotels Photo / February 6, 2013)

When the 137th annual Westminster Kennel Club dog show arrives in New York City next week, even the small breeds will be living large.

That's because pet travel is booming across the United States, with more travelers than ever taking along their four-legged friends on vacations near and far.

Dogs and cats that in the past might have been confined to carriers or hidden in the hotel bathroom are instead getting the five-star treatment as they strut to their luxury accommodations.

Nowhere is this trend more evident than at the gathering of well-traveled purebreds participating in "America's Dog Show," to be held Monday and Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

Organizers say this year's show will feature 3,200 dogs — the largest number to date — competing for the coveted Best in Show title.

Many of the pampered pooches are lodging at the Affinia Manhattan, where the official hotel of the show is rolling out the red carpet.

The hotel is providing a sneak peek of its Happy Tails program, which includes a plush dog bed and chew toys, customized treats, puppy stairs and a dog bowl. On one of its spacious terrace suites, four-legged guests will find the complimentary Happy Tails Suite, where dogs can maintain their fitness regimen on motorized pet treadmills.

During downtime, Affinia Manhattan's guest dogs can practice their winning poses at a photo session with a step and repeat, filled with entertaining props.

Additionally, guests of the Westminster Kennel Club can treat their pooches to the Doggie Delights menu at Niles New York City, the hotel's onsite restaurant.The menu includes sauteed beef tips, a 6-ounce sliced steak and 3-ounce grilled steak. Guests can also add a donation to the Humane Society of New York onto their hotel bill.

The show dogs are a special group, but there are plenty of places where your favorite furry friends can be a part of your travel adventures.

For instance, Hotel Monaco, which offers boutique accommodations in downtown Baltimore, is pet-friendly. "We accept any number of pets without size or weight restrictions and for no extra charge," says a spokeswoman.

As soon as one enters the hotel, there are bowls at the front door with fresh water and dog food. An onsite pet concierge can provide a bevy of amenities. They include dog walking, name tags with hotel information and leashes, dog and cat day care, grooming services, gourmet treats at turndown, information about local dog-friendly parks and even emergency veterinarians.

In addition, any guests who are not able to travel with their pets and are missing them, may request that a goldfish be brought to their room to keep them company while traveling.

On the Eastern Shore in the town of St. Michaels, Five Gables Inn & Spa features 20 rooms and suites, each individually decorated in an elegant style featuring working gas fireplaces, antique furnishings, Jane Wilner toile linens, Frette towels and down comforters.

Some rooms have private porches or balconies, and four rooms are pet-friendly, according to co-owner Bonnie Booth, who runs the property with husband John.

Each dog receives use of a dog bed, special fuzzy toy and a treat.

Last but not least, the inn has onsite shopping, including Flying Fred's Gifts for Pets — a boutique that offers unusual gifts for pets and pet lovers alike. Pets are welcome and treats are free.

At the Tides Inn, which offers upscale lodging on the Chesapeake Bay in Irvington, Va., owners have designated a wing of the hotel as pet-friendly.

Ground-level rooms in the Garden House wing are set with sliding glass doors that open to a grassy lawn that pet guests find soft on the paws and fun to roll around in.