Keeping Your Pets Safe at Home

I love my pets. I love spoiling them with delicious treats and fresh food. I love taking road trips with the pups up to our house in Los Olivos where they can run happily in the backyard. They hop in the car, tails wagging, ready for a drive along the coast. 

But owning pets isn’t all puppy kisses and long walks to the local park. As any pet owner will tell you, especially here in Southern California, it’s also about keeping your pets safe. In L.A., we’re lucky to enjoy the gorgeous scenery of rolling hillsides and famous Los Angeles sunshine, but with this warm weather and wilderness come some not-so-fun hazards to avoid. Here are just a few every pet owner should keep in mind: 

Artificial Turf

I recommend artificial turf to a lot of my clients as a drought-friendly, water-wise way to make any yard more sustainable. (Also, there’s fantastic ROI in adding turf whenever you decide to sell your home.) However, one downside of artificial turf is that it gets really hot in the summer, so you should always be careful with dogs or cats or rabbits or iguanas (all pets get love in this post) or else they might burn their cute paws. In a study from the City of Tempe Water Resources Department, surface temperatures of artificial grass were found to be about 20 – 50 degrees Fahrenheit higher than natural grass when exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time. During the research, the highest temperature read on the turf was a whopping 200 degrees Fahrenheit! Yikes. If you’re worried about any potential burns from hot turf, consider soft, non-slip rubber sole booties to protect your pet’s paws. 

Coyotes and Wild Animals

Over the course of my decades-long real estate career, I’ve been to many homes where the seller has a small dog and built a 6-8 foot fence, thinking they’ve thwarted any threats from coyotes. I hate to be the one to tell them they’re wrong. (The good news is that we can fix it!) Did you know coyotes can jump at least 8 feet over a fence in the span of a second? They can also dig under a fence and squeeze beneath it, right into your yard. And in some areas, coyotes aren’t the only threat; bobcats are also an issue. While they used to be confined to more mountainous areas, with food sources scarce, they’ve been spotted more and more in suburban locales. So, how can you protect your pet? One solution is to always supervise your pet whenever they’re in the yard, especially if it’s late at night. Never, ever let your pet out in the middle of the night! While this isn’t ideal, it will keep them safe. You can also install roller fences or reversed barbed wire fences to deter coyotes. Another solution is to build a “catio,” which is a screened-in porch where your cat or small dog can go out, do their business, get fresh air, run around and still be protected. This mesh-covered enclosure will give your pet some freedom, and give you some peace of mind. 

Outdoor Food or Water

To keep coyotes and wildlife out of your yard, make sure they aren’t enticed to be there in the first place. Use heavy-duty trash bags and secure your trash can lids. Bring any pet feeders or water bowls inside whenever you go into the house. Avoid placing bird feeders in an area where your pets play. Clean your BBQ well and keep it covered when not in use. Wipe down any outdoor countertops after you’ve enjoyed your meal. Rinse out any sources of standing water like watering cans or vessels that may have collected rain water. 

Retractable Leashes

Along the same theme as unsupervised, late-night yard roaming, retractable leashes can also pose a potential threat to your pets. If you’re hiking on trails and have an absurdly long retractable leash, it’s hard to control the situation should a wild animal appear. The best way to avoid any problems while hiking our gorgeous L.A. trails is to have your pet on a short leash and stay vigilant! You can also carry a spray or noisemaker as an extra deterrent.


If you think you might spend time with your pup in the great L.A. outdoors this summer – camping, hiking, walking along trails – I’d also recommend taking a snake avoidance training class with your dog, which teaches them to say away from the occasional rattlesnakes that do appear in our mountain communities and trail systems. Most local trainers offer rattlesnake avoidance training as well.

So, those are just a few ways you can keep your pets safe and happy. But the main thing to remember are these two important words: Be careful.