Safety Tips for the Dog Park

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
  • Parasites
  • Parvovirus

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.