Dog Parks: How to Keep Your Dog Safe and Healthy
It's fall and the weather is just right to take your dog to the park. Before grabbing the leash and heading over, it is important to consider the risks as well as take precautions. There is more to think about than Covid-19.
With Covid-19, virus transmission information changes frequently. According to the CDC, the risk of pets spreading COVID-19 to people is low. So, best to play it safe by treating your dog as any family member - physically distance you and your dog from other dogs and their owners. While at the dog park, avoid touching “high touch surfaces” such as gates, hoses and faucets. Bring some hand sanitizer as well as a face covering.
Aside from Covid-19, dog parks can also be a source of intestinal parasites. A research study published in June 2020, found that 1 in 5 dogs had intestinal parasites. These parasites (Giardia, Hookworms, Whipworms) were found at 85% of US dog parks. In Florida almost 1/3 of dogs had hookworms.
How Do Dogs Get Parasites?
Simply put, dogs get parasites by coming in contact with infected feces or soil. Sniffing infected poop, lying on contaminated ground, or and/or licking their paws after walking on bad soil, can cause the infection. Drinking contaminated water is another way to get one.
How to Prevent Infections?
Taking a few precautions, along with annual check-ups can help your dog stay healthy.
Avoid parks where poop is left by owners. Dog owners should immediately pick up and dispose of poop.
BYOW. Do not allow dogs to drink water that could be contaminated – bring your own water (BYOW).
Get your dog tested annually. If you visit dog parks often, talk to your vet about keeping your dog on a year-round broad-spectrum medication to control intestinal parasites.
During the pandemic lockdown, many pet owners may have refrained from veterinary visits. As a result, dogs may have missed exams and may not be up-to-date on vaccinations, heartworm or flea prevention. Keeping your dog at a distance is more important than ever.
Dogs and people need social interaction and exercise. It’s great to bring your dog to the park for both, but understand the risks as it is an area where diseases can spread.
Please share if you like this information. And, comments are always appreciated!
Hogan, Stephen, CBC News - The dog park is open again. Should you use it? May 20, 2020
Little, Susan E. and Ryan, William G., Bug Bitten - One Health at the Dog Park: canine intestinal parasites common across USA, July 14 2020
Small Door Veterinary - Hookworm in Dogs
McCleary Animal Hospital - Whipworms in Dogs: Symptoms, treatment and Prevention, Sept. 4, 2019
Pets and Parasites - Giardia in Dogs
Photo by Monika Simeonova on Unsplash
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