5 California Dangers Every Pet Owner Needs to Know About

Visiting or moving to the Golden State with pets? Here are 5 California dangers every pet owner needs to know!

Mar 8, 2024byLauren Rey
california dangers every pet owner needs to know about

Like every state, California has its own unique climate, ecosystems, and dangers that pet owners need to be aware of. Whether you’re planning a trip to California with your four-legged friend in tow or moving to the state permanently — here’s your guide to California dangers so you can keep your pet safe, happy, and healthy in the Golden State!

5. Dangerous Wildlife in California

rattlesnake sign
Photo Credit: Welcomia/Canva

California is a vast state that includes a variety of landscapes including sunny beaches, arid deserts, snowy mountains, and lush valleys. Each area has its own local wildlife to be wary of like mountain lions in the foothills, bears and wolves in the mountains, coyotes and rattlesnakes in the deserts, and sharks in the ocean.

The truth of the matter is most people will never even spot one of these creatures and they typically want nothing to do with humans either. But, if you’re camping, hiking, paddle boarding, or doing pretty much anything outdoors in California with your pet, it pays to be mindful! Predators may mistake your dog for prey, especially the smaller they are.

mountain lion
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Canva

To keep your pet safe from California wildlife, always heed warning signs, keep your pet leashed, and stay on marked trails. Avoid hiking or camping with dogs in known predator territories. If a trail or campsite is marked with a “no pets” sign, it’s probably for a good reason and should be respected.

At home, be careful with leaving pets unattended in yards in known coyote areas, or consider using a coyote vest. Lastly, always look out for snakes, whether on the trail or around your home. Rocky areas, woodpiles, and plant pots are some of their favorite hiding spots and subsequently where curious pets may find them!

If your pet ever does have a run-in with wildlife and gets bit or scratched, seek veterinary care immediately! Especially for large wounds and rattlesnake bites as these can be fatal.

4. Natural Disasters in California

california wildfires
Photo Credit: AKarat Images/Canva

Unfortunately, California is a state that sees a wide range of natural disasters. Many of them can happen quite quickly, with little to no warning such as earthquakes, wildfires, flash floods, landslides, and mudslides. While it’s often impossible to know when or where certain disasters may strike, it’s important for California pet owners to be prepared.

All Californians should have a disaster plan in place that includes their pets. Be sure to have pet-friendly evacuation plans, a disaster kit, and a pet first aid kit. Since many of California’s natural disasters happen without warning and may require a quick evacuation, it’s always a good idea to have your pets leash-trained, crate-trained, and car-ready. The last thing you want is your pet fighting against the leash or carrier when minutes matter.

3. Toxic Plants in California

dog sniffing wildflowers
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Canva

California is known for its beautiful landscapes, vast meadows of wildflowers, and ornamental gardens, but some of these plants can be dangerous to pets. From garden tulips to wild ivy, there are many plants in California that are toxic to pets.

Protect your pet by familiarizing yourself with the varieties of toxic plants in your region. The ASPCA Pet Poison Control Toxic Plant Library is a great resource for this. Be careful with what flowers you plant in your garden, some of the most beautiful can also be toxic to pets. And, most importantly — keep your pet leashed on walks. Dogs, especially, are prone to ingesting toxic plants and other hazards while on walks.

2. Foxtails

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An invasive weed that grows everywhere from meadows and forests to your backyard and even that small patch of grass outside your local gas station, foxtails can pose a big problem for pets. Foxtails are seed clusters from perennial grasses that have tiny barbs that “catch” onto things. What they unfortunately end up catching onto most of the time is our pets. Once embedded in your pet’s fur, they can travel into the skin, creating wounds and migrating throughout the body. Sometimes they’ll even end up in the nose and travel into the lungs, creating a host of medical issues.

Foxtail season runs from late spring through early fall when these grasses are “blooming” and therefore, most dangerous. During this time, keep an extra close watch on your pets while they’re outdoors. Dogs especially, because they love to sniff, are at risk of inhaling fox tails. Keep them away from tall grasses, stay on marked trails, and clear your lawn of any debris.

If you live in an area overrun with foxtails and it’s difficult to avoid, you may want to consider a field guard for your dog. These mesh faceguards allow your dog to still go for a walk without the risk of inhaling foxtails.

1. Heat

desert dog
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Canva

Just like its landscapes, California has a varied climate. The southern regions as well as the desert can get quite hot, as can the rest of the state during summer. It’s uncommon for parts of California to reach temperatures above 80 degrees, with some heat waves even ushering in dangerous temperatures in the 100s.

The risk of heatstroke can be a big concern in California, especially during the summer months. Pet owners should keep an eye on temperatures and use caution when exercising their pets on hot days. Even a short walk around the block can be fatal on a 100-degree day. It’s also important to never leave pets outside in the heat or in a parked car.

Older dogs, overweight dogs, and brachycephalic breeds (those with shortened, “smushed” noses like French Bulldogs and Pugs) are especially at risk for developing heatstroke. Pet owners should take all necessary precautions to prevent their pets from overheating and learn the signs of heatstroke (like heavy panting, bright red gums, drooling, and disorientation). Pets suspected of having heatstroke should be taken to a veterinarian immediately!

Lauren Rey
byLauren Rey

A lover of all animals, Lauren’s background is in the veterinary world, but she is now a content writer on travel, wildlife, and all things pets! She’s based in Florida, but when not writing, she’s usually plotting out a new road trip route with her partner-in-crime. Pickles is a mixed-breed rescue dog that loves hiking, road trips, and Starbucks just as much as her mom does!