Most common dog-park related conditions identified

Most common dog-park related conditions identified

Warmer weather could mean more trips to the clinic due to dog park-related illness and injury.
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Jun 08, 2012
By dvm360.com staff

As summer quickly approaches and the weather heats up, pet owners are more likely to frequent dog parks where their four-legged friends can play and socialize with their peers. In fact, more pet owners may be utilizing dog parks than ever before. With a 34 percent increase during the past five years, dog parks are the fastest-growing segment of city parks in the U.S., according to a study conducted by the nonprofit organization Trust for Public Land.

Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) recently sorted its database of more than 420,000 dogs to determine common dog park-related medical conditions in 2011. See the results below.

1. Sprains and soft tissue injuries

2. Lacerations and bite wounds

3. Kennel cough or upper respiratory infection

4. Insect bites

5. Head trauma

6. Hyperthermia or heat stroke

7. Parasite infection

8. Parvovirus

Each of these conditions can make for a costly trip to the dog park. The most expensive medical condition on the list, hyperthermia or heat stroke, costs an average of $584 per pet, while insect bites, the least expensive condition, cost an average of $141 per pet.

The most common condition on the list, sprains and soft tissue injuries, cost an average of $213 per pet. Veterinarians should think about what they can do to encourage clients to help their dogs avoid these common medical issues, the company states.

“Pets are treated by veterinarians more frequently during the summer months due to their increased exposure to the outdoors,” says Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “The majority of medical conditions that occur at a dog park can be avoided by taking necessary precautions, most notably by keeping a close eye on your dog at all times.”

Dog parks have their rules just like any other community, so VPI advises that veterinarians remind their clients of these tips to keep their clients’ visits fun and safe:

  • Obey all the posted rules and regulations at the park.
  • Pay attention to the dog at all times. Be aware of the other pets too.
  • Don’t bring a puppy younger than 4 months old to the park.
  • Make sure the dog is up to date on all of its vaccinations and has a valid pet license.
  • Keep a collar on the dog.
  • On very warm days, avoid the 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, bring the dog in to be examined by a veterinarian immediately.

The more veterinarians warn clients, the more likely their visit will be a walk in the park.