Pets have a great life in the Golden State but there are many reasons why you should get pet insurance in California.
Being a pet parent in California is as varied as the Golden State itself, from the life your pet will lead to how much it costs to look after them. That includes pet insurance.
California really does have everything. If you want to walk your Golden Retriever or enjoy the company of a cat in your ski lodge, the state has ranges galore, from the Cascade, to the Sierra Nevada, to the Coast Ranges with their giant redwoods and the incredible Big Sur.
Dog walking in California
The state has incredible parks for anyone who loves hiking through nature with their pooch. Those who like their dog walks with added ‘culture’ will be happy to know that some of the state’s famous wineries are also dog-friendly. Check out the aptly named Mutt Lynch Winery and Big Dog Vineyards.
Of course, anywhere there’s wildlife, especially wild animals and venomous rattlesnakes, there’s an extra risk to your pet through disease and attacks. That's why it’s good to make sure they're sufficiently insured. A wound from a coyote attack could cost $4,500 to treat, while a snake bite could set you back $8,000.
“A coyote attack could cost $4,500 to treat, while a snake bite could set you back $8,000”
Big walks and jumps can also put strain on your pet’s joints and muscles. Make sure you’re well covered for muscle strains ($3,000), leg-breaks ($2,000) and arthritis (up to $1,000 per year).
Pet care in the heat
You can’t talk about California without mentioning the beaches and the ocean, perfect for sun-, sea- or sand-worshipping pets. But are there dog-friendly beaches in California? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’.
Dogs are allowed on many of the state’s beaches while others have dog-friendly sections. Other places like San Diego, Del Mar and Long Beach have designated dog beaches where mutts can go nuts. But remember, animals can overheat and aren’t always the best at self-regulating. Treatment for sunstroke in dogs can cost $5,000 (worth remembering if you think a trip to the desert is a good idea).
Did you know?
In California, a pet is treated the same as a child in divorce cases
City life, accidents and theft
Of course, California has incredible cities for people who prefer a metropolitan lifestyle and maybe more of a house pet. That said, it has fabulous parks to go walking in, like Griffith Park in LA and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. But bigger cities like these also tend to have higher pet insurance costs. This is due to factors such as higher vet bills, pollution-related health conditions, and the increased chances of a road accident or theft. A policy for the same animal can be 50% more in San Francisco than the smaller Sacramento, less than 100 miles away.
Why get pet insurance at all?
At Petted, we sincerely believe that pet insurance is a must for all pet parents, whether you live in New York, North Carolina or Nebraska. It doesn’t matter if you’re a city- or country-dweller, if you have a Bull Mastiff or a Burmese, your beloved pet is at risk from injury, illness and inherited conditions – and these things can cost a lot of money to fix.
If you don’t have a very large savings account then you run the risk of either getting into a ton of debt (we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars in some cases) or – and we hate to think about this – not being able to pay for your pet’s treatment and having to either give them up or, tragically, have them euthanized.
So, for the sake of a few dollars a month, please buy yourself some peace of mind and your pet a healthier, more secure future. To find the best pet insurance policy for where you live, click here. We'll fetch you the perfect quotes in less than a minute.
Some common questions about having a pet in California
Do you need pet insurance in California?
This question can be answered two ways. Does the State of California legally require pet insurance? No, it doesn’t. Do Californian pet parents need insurance? We would say yes, unless you can afford to pay potentially tens of thousands of dollars in vet bills and pet care. For a few dollars a month you can protect yourself against a financial shock – and protect your pet with the best medical help possible.
Where in California is pet insurance the most expensive?
Pet insurance premiums are calculated using several factors and one of the main ones is your zip code. It may not seem fair, but where you live affects all kinds of insurance. In California, you won’t be surprised to learn that some of the most expensive places to get pet insurance are the most expensive places to live: San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, Fresno, Oakland, San Diego. This reflects the cost of veterinary treatment, which in turn reflects things like how much it costs a veterinary practice to lease a surgery, energy costs, and the general cost of running a business.
How long are pet insurance waiting periods in California?
There are two types of waiting period when it comes to pet insurance: how long it takes after you sign up for the plan to come into effect, and how long it takes for the insurance company to pay out any claims. The former can differ for the ‘accident’ and ‘illness’ parts of an accident and illness plan, with accident usually 1-3 days and illness 1-15 days (some specific conditions, such as ACL injuries, can be longer). The pay-out times can likewise vary, from 1-3 days up to 30 days. All of these things vary depending on the insurer you choose, so read our pet insurance company reviews.
Is pet rent legal in California?
The short answer is yes. Landlords are legally allowed to charge extra rent for pets. For example, if your monthly rent is $1,500, they might charge $1,600 if you have a pet. They can also ask for a refundable ‘pet deposit’ to cover any damage by caused your pet. Like a security deposit, this can be a maximum of two months’ rent.
However, this is an absolute, overall legal maximum whether they call it a security deposit or pet deposit. So it could be one month ‘security’ plus one month ‘pet’, or two months under either name – they’re basically the same thing. Don’t be fooled into handing over more than two months’ rent in total.
Landlords also have the right to bar pets from a property unless they’re service animals (although even they can be denied under certain circumstances – e.g. if they pose a danger to neighbors). And the law has a very strict definition of service animal – it’s not something you can call any pet and requires the animal to perform a particular role.
Is ear-cropping legal in California?
Unfortunately, painful and usually unnecessary animal mutilations such as ear-cropping, tail-docking, declawing and devocalizing are legal in all US states. Some states regulate them, but most do not, including California. The American Veterinary Medical Association is opposed to the ear-cropping and tail-docking of dogs for cosmetic purposes.
Are there specific pet laws in California?
There are several state-wide California laws around animal welfare and control, and breaking them can be a misdemeanor or a felony and can lead to large fines or jail time. It’s a criminal offence to abandon a pet, stores can only sell rescues, and a pet is treated the same as a child when it comes to divorce cases. Here are some other examples:
You can’t leave an animal unattended in a vehicle if they would suffer because of heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability or death.
You must provide food, water, shelter, and proper veterinary medical care for your animal. Maliciously neglecting, harming, killing or poisoning an animal can be charged as a felony.
There are also laws around animals that are city-specific:
Los Angeles pet laws
Dogs four months and older require a license, renewed each year, from the LA County Department of Animal Care & Control . To get the license they must be vaccinated against rabies. (Cats can also be registered voluntarily for a small fee.) Dogs must be restrained by a “substantial leash” no shorter than six feet when on any public street, park or other public areas – or private property other than that of the dog’s owner.
Other prohibited things include: transporting a dog in or on the back or bed of any open truck; animals defecating on public property or private property other than the owner's; animal noises that disturb the peace, quiet and comfort of a residential neighborhood.
San Diego pet laws
As with Los Angeles, all dogs aged four months and older must have a valid license and wear it at all times. To get the license, owners must show proof that dogs have been properly vaccinated for rabies. Dogs are also required to be on a leash not shorter than eight feet except in designated off-leash areas, such as dog parks, or confined to a private residence or backyard. The leash laws include canyons and trails.
If your dog bites someone, you must notify the County Department of Animal Services if your dog bites someone. The dog is required by law to be quarantined for 10 days from the date of the bite. Dogs can also be made a ‘Public Nuisance Animal’ or a ‘Dangerous Dog’, which will impose certain requirements on the owner – and failure to comply could lead to the dog being impounded or euthanized.
San Jose pet laws
The city of San Jose requires all cats and dogs four months of age and older to be licensed annually (and vaccinated against rabies in order to get that license). The cost of a license depends on the pet’s age and whether they’re spayed or neutered, but ranges from $20-$55. There’s also a limit on the number of licensed pets that a person can own: three dogs or five licensed animals in total. So, as examples, a person can have two dogs and three cats or five cats, but couldn’t have four dogs and a cat.
It's illegal to keep any animal without proper and adequate care in San Jose. It’s also unlawful for an owner/guardian to neglect an animal in a vehicle, for animals to run at large, to allow an animal to become a public nuisance, or to abandon an animal. Any animal denied proper and adequate food, water, shelter, or veterinary care for a period of more than 48 hours is deemed “abandoned” in San Jose.
San Francisco pet laws
San Francisco is another city that requires all dogs aged four months and older to have a license (available in one-, two- and three-year increments) and that, in order to get the license, the dog must be vaccinated against rabies.
The city’s health code says that dogs, whenever off your own personal property, a dog must be on a leash at most eight feet in length. A dog can’t be left unattended in any public space, even designated off-leash areas. You’re also required to remove and properly dispose of any feces produced by your dog – and you also need to carry a container or instrument to remove it.
Fresno pet laws
As with all the other cities on this page, all dogs over the age of four months are legally required to be licensed and vaccinated. On top of that, all dogs over the age of five months must be spayed or neutered unless the owner has a breeding license.
There are also limits on the number of dogs or cats (aged over four months) that can be kept on a residential property.
For properties less than 36,000 square feet, it’s no more than four animals in total, and no more than six animals on properties over 36,000 square feet.
There are also laws around “nuisance” dogs. You’re not allowed to keep or maintain any dog that a) disturbs a neighborhood or individual with habitual and continual barking, howling or whining, b) habitually “commits a nuisance” on someone else’s property, or c) habitually attacks or barks at passing pedestrians, vehicles or other users of public streets.
Useful pet health resources in California
Beach Animal Rehabilitation Center (BARC) – Not to be confused with the legal cannabis outlet BARC, this is a holistic health hub for hounds that uses Eastern and Western methods, including physiotherapy and acupuncture, to treat and prevent medical issues in pets. Great for all dogs but especially seniors.
UC Davis Veterinary Nutrition Service – UC Davis is a veterinary teaching hospital just west of Sacramento. As well as offering advice to veterinarians, it also has services for pet parents, including a nutritional advice service for anyone able to travel to the university. It’s really useful for anyone wanting to give their pet a balanced diet or dietary solutions to health issues.
The Rex Center – Swimming is fantastic for dogs and this center in Pacifica, just south of San Francisco, is a big wet paradise for water-loving dogs. It provides lessons for dogs of all ages who need some confidence, and is a wonderful joint-friendly way for older dogs, large dogs and arthritic dogs to exercise.
It’s a real worry when your pet gets sick. But with plenty of reimbursement options available, pet insurance can help cover up to 100% of veterinary costs for new accidents and illnesses – plus much more.
X-rays, CT scans & MRI’s
General check ups
Follow up care