Dog Parks: Safety Tips for Pooches & People
While frolicking in the park is great exercise and a good time for our playful pooches, canines may return home from the dog park with more than just new four-legged friends. Medical conditions commonly associated with a visit to the dog park include sprains, bites and head trauma. As dog park visits increase during the warm summer months, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation's oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, reminds dog owners about the importance of safety when visiting their favorite dog park.
In 2012, VPI policyholders spent more than $8.8 million on medical conditions that are commonly associated with a visit to the dog park. VPI recently sorted its database of more than 430,000 canines to determine common dog park-related medical conditions. Below are the results:
Common Dog Park-Related Medical Conditions
>>Sprains and Soft Tissue Injuries
>>Lacerations and Bite Wounds
>>Kennel Cough/Upper Respiratory Infection
>>Hyperthermia or Heat Stroke
Each of the conditions listed above can make for a costly dog park visit for pet parents. In 2012, the most expensive medical condition on the list, hyperthermia or heat stroke, cost an average of $676 per pet, while insect bites, the least expensive condition on the list, cost an average of $146 per pet. The most common condition on the list, sprains and soft tissue injuries, cost an average of $217 per pet.
"Pet owners can avoid many of the medical conditions that occur at a dog park simply by taking the necessary precautions and paying close attention to their pet," said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. "Dog parks are a great place for pets to socialize, but they can also be the site of accidents and other problems if their owners don't watch them closely to protect them from potential dangers."
Before visiting, it is essential for pet owners to understand that dog parks have their rules, just like any other community. Below are a few simple, but important tips for ensuring a fun and safe trip to the dog park:
*Obey all posted rules and regulations
*Pay attention to your dog at all times
*Don't bring a puppy younger than four months old
*Make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations (such as rabies and parvovirus vaccine) and has a valid license
*Preventive medication will keep your pet from picking up fleas
*Keep a collar with identification on your dog at all times
*On very warm days, avoid the dog park during peak temperature hours, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
*Look for signs of overheating; including profuse and rapid panting, a bright red tongue, thick drooling saliva and lack of coordination. If this occurs, take your dog to a veterinarian immediately