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These California cities are among top 10 spots for happy, healthy dogs in US. Here’s why

Three California cities are among the best places in the United States for happy, healthy dogs in 2024.

That’s according to USA Today Blueprint, which ranked metropolitan areas across the country based on weather, walkability, veterinary costs and other factors.

Seattle was the best city overall, but San Francisco, Long Beach and Sacramento also made the top 10 list.

“California has the most cities per state for a charmed dog life,” USA Today Blueprint said.

Horace, 2, meets other dogs during the Sacramento Great Danes Facebook group meet-up at SacYard Community Tap House and Beer Garden on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023.
Horace, 2, meets other dogs during the Sacramento Great Danes Facebook group meet-up at SacYard Community Tap House and Beer Garden on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023.

Which U.S. cities are the best for happy, healthy dogs?

Seattle led the pack in terms of U.S. cities for contented pups, USA Today Blueprint said, thanks to its “abundant number” of parks, veterinary offices and cool weather days.

Here’s how other U.S. cities ranked:

  1. Seattle, Washington

  2. Portland, Oregon

  3. San Francisco

  4. Boston, Massachusetts

  5. Minneapolis, Minnesota

  6. Long Beach

  7. Washington, D.C.

  8. Denver, Colorado

  9. Sacramento

  10. Atlanta, Georgia

How did USA Today come up with its rankings?

To evaluate the performance of each city, USA Today looked at data across these categories:

  • Number of veterinary offices per 100,000 residents.

  • Percent of residents within a 10-minute walk to a park.

  • Average annual vet costs in the city.

  • WalkScore, which is how walkable a city is without a car.

  • Number of dog parks per 100,000 residents.

  • Number of “cooling degree days,” as dogs don’t thrive in the heat.

Greer, a 1-year old yellow lab mix, is socialzed with other dogs at an adoption gathering in Granite Bay on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023. He’s among the rescued labs being fostered and cared for by one of the 75 volunteers at Central California Lab Retriever Rescue.
Greer, a 1-year old yellow lab mix, is socialzed with other dogs at an adoption gathering in Granite Bay on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2023. He’s among the rescued labs being fostered and cared for by one of the 75 volunteers at Central California Lab Retriever Rescue.

Where did California cities land on the list?

In its report, USA Today Blueprint found San Francisco and Seattle have the “most hospitable weather” for dogs, with relatively low annual “cooling degree days,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A degree day records how hot or cold it’s been over 24 hours. It’s used to keep a general track of demand for energy for heating or cooling buildings.

San Francisco ranked third on the list overall.

Although the Bay Area city had the highest annual vet costs ($881) and the second smallest number of vet offices for every 100,000 people (47), 100% of San Francisco residents were within a 10-minute walk to the park and the city had five dog parks for every 100,000 people.

Only Portland had more dog parks, with six.

Long Beach landed at No. 6 with the most vet offices per 100,000 residents. Annual vet costs were $775 and 83% of residents were within a 10-minute walk to a park. There were two dog parks for every 100,000 residents.

Sacramento ranked ninth.

It had the fewest number of vet offices per 100,000 residents at 44 and was the cheapest of the California cities in terms of annual vet costs at $761 (tied with Boston). There were four dog parks for every 100,000 residents and 84% of people lived within a 10-minute walk to a park.

You can find the full breakdown online.

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