As summer approaches and the weather heats up, my clients are more likely to frequent dog parks for a fun outdoor escape where their four-legged friends can play and socialize. In fact, more pet owners are utilizing dog parks than ever before.
With a 34 percent increase over the past five years, dog parks are the fastest-growing segment of city parks in the U.S., according to a study by the non-profit Trust for Public Land. As dog park visits increase,I like to remind all of my dog-owning clients about the importance of safety when visiting their favorite dog park.
In 2011, VPI policyholders spent more than $8.6 million on medical conditions that are commonly associated with a visit to the dog park. According to VPI, here are the most common dog park related injuries:
- Sprains and soft tissue injuries
- Lacerations and bite wounds
- Kennel cough/upper respiratory infection
- Insect bites
- Head trauma
- Hyperthermia or heat stroke
Before visiting the dog park, make sure you 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 and has a valid license
- Keep a collar on your dog
- 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.