Dog Park Safety
It’s an exciting time of year for many dogs… longer days and sunny weather can mean more trips to the dog park with their owners! Taking your dog to the park has many benefits, including allowing them to truly stretch their legs, get plenty of exercise running around as well as allowing them to socialize with other dogs which is an important part of their mental health.
While visiting the dog park is a daily visit for some owners, others may not be familiar with the rules of dog parks as well as some of the health risks that an unvaccinated dogs can pose. If you have a new puppy, make sure they have finished the vaccines your veterinarian has recommended before allowing them to play with adult dogs who may or may not be up-to-date on their vaccinations.
Unvaccinated dogs (or even wild animals hanging around dog parks) can carry diseases like parvovirus, leptospirosis, rabies, fleas and ticks or distemper. Intestinal parasites can be spread by dogs walking on feces and then licking their paws later on. Many of these are controllable and preventable with a veterinarian-recommended heartworm program and by keeping your dog’s vaccinations current.
Always work on socialization with one or two dogs in a controlled setting first to make sure your pet is not overwhelmed by many dogs in a free-play setting. Have your leash handy just in case play-fighting gets a little rough and you need to get a hold of your dog right away. It is also better for small dogs to play with other small ones when possible. Little dogs can be easily injured by biting or even being jumped on top of by bigger dogs. Play fighting can sometimes go bad, so watch for submissive dogs being pushed into more aggressive play by more aggressive dogs. Increased growling, snapping and intimidating postures are all signs that play behaviour may be about to escalate.
When you get home, be sure you wash your hands and clean off your shoes to avoid transmitting any foreign material into your household.
The dog park is a fabulous way to enjoy a beautiful summer day with your pet. Take the necessary precautions and you and your pet will have a happy and healthy day at the park!
More more tips on pet training and care, visit www.ontariospca.ca/factsheets.
Hats off to you
To all kind-hearted and hard-working people at SPCA: hats off to you. I love animals and admire the work you do.