If you’ve ever marveled at the multitude of beachside boutiques offering top‑of‑the‑line scratching posts, happened across a lively group on horseback around Newport Back Bay, or peeked inside a stroller at Fashion Island only to find yourself face-to-face with a jewel‑collared Yorkie, you’ve probably come to this realization: Orange County loves its pets.
We’re not just talking dogs—though they are certainly the most visible pet presence here. We spoil all manner of feathered, scaled, and furred creatures, as evidenced by the excellent local businesses, events, nonprofits, and animals of note documented on the following pages. We hope this guide helps you discover more ways to dote on the cuddly companions in your life.
Bark City | Siblings Bryson and Brittany Berryman opened this luxe doggy daycare in 2015, and it’s still one of the only pet resorts in the county with outdoor space (including an in-ground pool!) and cage-free boarding with 24-hour supervision. The facility itself is so modern and chic, you almost want to stay there yourself. Grooming and birthday party rentals available, too. 8541 Edison Drive, Huntington Beach, 714-536-6191, barkcityhb.com
BirdStuff | Parrot parents flock to this shop in search of high-quality toys, stainless-steel cages, and organic, formulated feed. Owner and certified avian specialist Donna Garrou opened the shop with the support of veterinarian Larry Nemetz, who operates The Bird Clinic next door and wanted a place to refer patients. Though BirdStuff doesn’t sell birds, it does offer top-notch boarding, and Garrou’s own birds can be found modeling cages and testing toys in the shop. 210 S. Tustin St., Orange, 714-639-6039, birdstuff.com
Upper Newport Bay | Narrowing down favorite places to walk with our dogs would be pretty much impossible. That said, the trails around Upper Newport Bay definitely rank high on the list—and based on the sheer number of fellow dog walkers we pass on the loop, we’re not alone in our assessment. Free parking. 2301 University Drive, Newport Beach, ocparks.com/parks/newport
Dog Agility | If you’ve seen videos of dogs having a blast while racing through obstacle courses and thought, “Hey, my pup could do that,” it’s time to give it a shot. Laurie Zurborg, local agility trainer and owner of Wags & Wiggles, offers private lessons as well as group courses at the Tustin and Rancho Santa Margarita locations of the daycare, boarding, and training facility. Once your collie, Catahoula, or, yes, even Chihuahua gets the hang of it, Zurborg recommends joining O.C.’s major agility club, DASH, for practices and competition trials. dashagility.com; wagsandwiggles.com
Furry Belly Deli | Celebrating an adoptiversary? This local favorite makes custom cakes and cookies that are sure to be a hit. Pets with dietary restrictions can rest easy—all treats are grain free, all-natural, and have limited, human-grade ingredients. While you’re picking up delectable treats, make sure to browse the well-curated selection of food, toys, and accessories. 106½ N. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton, furrybellydeli.com
Pacific Hideaway | Opened last summer, the bright and airy restaurant at Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel offers a three-item dog menu consisting of generous portions of chef JT Walker’s beef and potato, rockfish and yam, or chicken and rice. The meals are usually $7 each, but on Sit, Stay Sundays dogs eat free with the purchase of $15 worth of human food. The only thing we love more than this deal is the ocean view from the patio. 500 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, 714-965-4448, pacifichideawayhb.com
Hanaeleh | In the equine community, Elizabeth Zarkos might as well be Wonder Woman: When a horse is in danger, she springs into action. The owner of Hanaeleh (hah-nah-LEE), an equine rescue and advocacy group in Trabuco Canyon, has been saving horses from slaughter since 2004. On a private 2-acre facility, she rehabilitates and trains the horses, then finds them adoptive homes or provides them sanctuary for life. On the first Saturday of every other month, the group welcomes volunteers, who spread mulch, pull weeds, or perform other basic maintenance before taking a tour of the paddocks and meeting the horses. 949-842-7408, hanaeleh.org
Just Food for Dogs | When Shawn Buckley stumbled across a list of things that could legally be used in dog food, he was shocked. “I couldn’t believe it at first; I kept thinking it was some kind of conspiracy theory,” he says. “But it was true, and I thought, there has to be a better way.” So in 2011, Buckley launched Just Food for Dogs in Newport Beach and started making dog food with human-grade ingredients. Since then, he has opened nine more stores in California and relocated the original O.C. store to a space that’s twice the size in Costa Mesa. Dog lovers can buy refrigerated and frozen food and learn how to make it themselves in free classes taught in the on-site kitchen. 103 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, 949-662-1414, justfoodfordogs.com
*Check out this comprehensive guide on how to choose the best dog food for allergies.
Moon Cat Cafe | This mobile feline oasis is modeled after the famous cat cafes popularized in Japan. Founder Janet Pao drives her renovated Step Van to county nonprofit cat rescues, such as Anaheim’s Cats In Tow. A visit to the cafe—which features sleek, modern decor and interactive cat furniture—is $12 and includes a drink and pastry of your choice (the food is stored in a separate compartment of the truck). All cats are adoptable, and Pao donates a cut of the proceeds to the rescues. mooncatcafe.com
Laguna Beach Dog Park | Orange County’s oldest dog park is still one of our favorites. From the well-maintained grass to the canyon views, the 2-acre park boasts all the features you and your pup could want, including water fountains, benches, and a separate enclosed area for small dogs. Above all, we love the kind and considerate locals who frequent the park. Closed Wednesdays. 20672 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, lagunabeachdogpark.com
Breed-Specific Dog Rescues | If a certain breed calls to you, there is no reason not to adopt. Local organizations such as the Irvine-based Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue have played matchmaker for dogs and families for more than 20 years. Others include the German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County, Southern California Bulldog Rescue, and the Southland Sheltie Rescue.
Cat Rescues | While there are many dog rescues in O.C., the county is also home to a number of feline rescues. Orange-based MeoowzResQ alone has saved the lives of 20,000 cats by finding them homes. Other kitty rescues include O.C. Small Paws, Caring Friends Cat Rescue, Forever Home Cat Rescue, and Dream Rescue—each dedicated to giving homeless cats and kittens a happily ever after. Even if you can’t permanently adopt, remember that these organizations often work with limited resources, making volunteers and foster families vital to their success.Alice’s Gourmet Wonderland | It’s a food truck—for pets! Owner Jana Erven launched the business in 2015 as a way to combine her love of animals and nutrition. With her Siberian husky, Alice, by her side, Erven serves house-made frozen yogurt, treats, and even freshly cooked meals for your dog or cat. The truck is also available for private events. Check online for upcoming stops. alicesgourmetwonderland.com
PeeWee’s Playdates | Hundreds of satisfied clients and 8½ years in the business have made Kelsey DiGiacobbe one of the highest-rated dog walkers and pet sitters in the county. The Laguna Niguel resident is a one-woman dynamo, walking pups one household at a time between visits to other critters, including her own dogs—two miniature dachshunds named Tucker and, of course, PeeWee. peeweesplaydates.com
Balboa Water Sports | Team up with your four-legged pal and explore scenic Newport Harbor on a stand-up paddleboard. This pet-friendly rental shop encourages experienced paddlers to bring their water-loving dogs along. Boards are available to rent by the hour and take off from the Balboa Fun Zone. Be sure to bring your own canine life jacket. 702 E. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach, 949-234-6333, balboawatersports.com
Puddles Pet Wash | This unique spa offers two ways to get your dirty dog clean: Hand him over to professional groomers or do it yourself. Pick the latter option, and you’ll get to use one of the three stainless-steel tubs, complete with shampoo and conditioner, ear wipes, towels, a dryer, and after-bath spray. The place is clean, the staff is friendly, and the location is unbeatable. 110 W. Center Street Promenade, Anaheim, 714-491-7201
Top Dog Barkery | This Pacific City favorite offers grooming and daycare, but we can’t resist stopping by for some freshly baked treats when we’re in the neighborhood. Next time you’re celebrating your li’l bud’s birthday, order one of the boutique’s six- or 12-inch, bone-shaped “barkday” cakes in flavors such as apple-n-oats or peanut butter. 21010 Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach, 714-960-3647, topdogbarkery.net
Hala’s Paws | Hala Helstien founded this pet boutique in Ladera Ranch when she realized the city had its own dog park and animal hospital but there was no pet store around for miles. With more than 16 years of experience in the retail pet industry, Helstien offers everything from organic pet food to her own line of adorable pet accessories. 1101 Corporate Drive, Ladera Ranch, 949-388-3223, halaspaws.com
Charlie & Me Boutique | This upscale dog boutique is perfectly at home in Lido Marina Village. The thoughtfully curated shop is the brainchild of owner Taylor Beauchamp, who struggled to find accessories for her French bulldog, Charlie, that aligned with her taste. Luxury is a given here, where it’s possible to spend more on a dog bed than on your own. 3505 Via Oporto, Newport Beach, 949-877-0036, charlieandme.us
Anaheim Feed & Pet Supply | The third-generation, family-owned store offers a huge variety of products including quite a few all-natural pet food brands you won’t find at the major chains, such as OC Raw Dog, Eagle Pack, and Fussie Cat. Factor in prices usually found only online, knowledgeable employees, and community events, and it’s clear why this place has thrived for decades. 1730 N. Lemon St., Anaheim, 714-992-2012, anaheimfeed.com
Socialization Walks | Is your dog nervous or aggressive around other dogs or people? The ever-patient Tasha Miner of Irvine Dog Owners’ Group for Socialization (IDOGS) leads hour-long behavior therapy training walks every other Sunday. Through positive reinforcement, Miner helps dogs learn basic obedience cues, become desensitized to triggers, and feel more at ease in their environment. Each session is $10. meetup.com/oc-idogs/events