When kids play at school on the playground, germs are abound. The same holds true for dogs at the dog park, so in addition to following your dog’s veterinary protocol for vaccines and disease prevention, Fidose of Reality shares these precautionary tips for dog park (and any outdoor activity) play with dogs.
Heat stroke: Dog sweat through their paws and cool themselves by panting. Shorter play sessions and less rigorous exercise are key. Signs of overheating in pets, according to the ASPCA, include “excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. They can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.” Check the gums, too – dogs who drool excessively or have gums that change to a bluish tinge or bright red may be in danger. Never give a dog ice water or water that is too cold, as a pet’s body temperature may lower rapidly. Seek veterinary care for any symptoms. Better yet, keep Fido from the dangers and know the precautions.
Dogs who are left in cars can develop heatstroke and even die as a result.
Canine bloat: Gas can build in the stomach of dogs and cause it to literally rotate. Dogs with full stomachs who exercise vigorously and/or if panting heavily and consume food or water rapidly are at risk. Prevent it and give water freely but watch rapid intake, especially after a work out.
Parasites: Intestinal pests are the worst kind for dogs. We can’t see them so often times we have no idea they are “there.” Several parasites are transmitted via feces, so clean up, carry wipes and have a dog’s stool sample checked by your veterinarian. From roundworms to hookworms to giardia, feces contaminates soil.
Dog fights and predatory “drifting:” “Oh look, they’re just playing,” may not be so, especially at the dog park. Dog parks often have areas separate for larger dogs to play together, with small dogs having their own domain. Proceed with caution when larger dogs may hone in on a smaller dog as its prey. As a lover of all sizes and pedigree (and non) of dogs, smaller dogs can bite just as much as larger ones. Know your dog’s body language and what is and is not “play.”
Keep it Closed Syndrome: The dog park gate and keeping it closed. I’ve since stopped frequenting dog parks (two bouts of kennel cough and a near scuffle), but one of my biggest concerns was the gate being closed. Most dog parks I’ve visited across the country have been equipped with a double gate. If Rover roams into one area, he can’t get very far. However, people who leave the gates open can be a dog’s biggest danger.
Dogs don’t live in a bubble and need the activity and outdoor fun; just proceed with caution, carry a first aid kit, and know the risks.