Jeffrey Vogl, DVM
Ask the Veterinarian
9:44 AM EDT, March 24, 2011
Q: Dr. Vogl, are dog parks safe? I worry that other dogs that go there might not be up-to-date on vaccinations?
A: I just asked my dog Remi what he thought about dog parks and I got a resounding "woof." I think that means "when do we leave?" That's exactly how I feel about dog parks too. What a wonderful, fun, and healthy activity for your four- legged friend. What better place to let off some steam, smell some great smells, socialize, run around like a maniac, meet some new friends, get into shape, let those endorphins kick in, then go home and relax. And it is fun for the dogs, too!
I tell my clients there is no way they can mimic the amount of play that dogs have when they are tearing around together. All you need to do is watch a 6-month-old retriever full of spit and vinegar kick it into high gear, dirt flying with his friends on his heels, panting and slobbering all over each other, for hours, to know we could never do that. Then the bonus. They are so much better at home, so much more relaxed and less destructive. Basically, they get IT out of their system, and if you have had a teen-aged puppy, you know what I mean about IT.
Dogs are social, pack animals by nature. This type of activity just brings that out. Social skills are actually learned at the park. Dogs learn what is allowed and reasonable behavior in a pack setting. This results in a better-adjusted dog, which in dog world means happier. Going to the park at a younger age (4-5 months) will help with this. Mature dogs may have to learn this over time.
Will there be scrapes and bruises? Absolutely. Just like when a child falls off the monkey bars. Will there be an occasional spat? Certainly. Is it possible Fido will get exposed to a respiratory or gastrointestinal (flu) -like virus? Sure it is, but so will kids in a school or mom-dog and dad-dog at work. All these things can happen at home anyways. Current vaccinations, including kennel cough (bordatella), become more important as there may be more risk of exposure. In addition, make sure that you have flea, tick and heart worm prevention on board. It has been my experience that the mutts at the park are the very well -cared for pets. What a great place to meet other dog people, who you already have something in common with. I guarantee if you look around dogs and dog owners will be smiling.
Now I have to go, Remi is still waiting for me at the back door.
Copyright © 2013, WSBT-TV