Dog park safety tips and common medical mishaps

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(Welcome to the weekly pet column of Pet Connection Programs Inc. of Marilla, N.Y. A new article is posted each week, so be sure to check back on a regular basis!)

As summer approaches, dog lovers begin their migration to local dog parks so their four-legged family members can play and socialize. With the increasing popularity of off leash dog parks, Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance, would like to remind dog owners about the importance of safety when visiting the dog park. Last year, Nationwide members spent more than $10 million on medical conditions that are commonly associated with dog park fun. Nationwide recently sorted through its database of more than 575,000 insured pets to determine the most common dog park-related medical conditions of last year. Following are the results:

Most Common Dog Park-Related Medical Conditions
Injury & Cost
Sprains & Soft Tissue Injuries, $225
Lacerations or Bite Wounds, $361
Kennel Cough or Upper Respiratory Infection, $174
Insect Bites, $143
Head Trauma, $591
Hyperthermia or Heat Stroke, $579

The most common medical condition on the list was soft tissue injuries or sprains, which affected nearly 24,000 Nationwide insured dogs last year. Head trauma from dogs crashing into objects or one another accounted for the most expensive condition on the list with an average cost of $591 per pet.

“The dog park is a great place for dogs to socialize and exercise, but there are safety measures dog owners need to be aware of,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for Nationwide. “Many of the medical conditions on our dog park related injury list can be avoided by taking necessary precautions, but some are out of the owner’s control. If any of these issues occur, dog owners should take their companion to their veterinarian immediately for treatment.”

Before visiting any dog park for the first time, dog owners should research the rules and regulations of the park. 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 and ensure that playtime remains friendly. If your dog or another dog is playing too rough, it’s best to remove your dog from the situation.
• Many dog parks have designated areas for large and small dogs. No matter your dog’s stature, be sure to keep them in the area allocated for their size.
• Don’t bring a puppy younger than four months old.
• Make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations.
• Keep a collar on your dog with proper identification tags that include contact information (microchipping is also recommended).
• On warm days, avoid the dog park during peak temperature hours.
• Bring water and a bowl for your dog to drink out of.
• Look for signs of overheating; including profuse and rapid panting, a bright red tongue, thick drooling saliva, glassy eyes and lack of coordination. If this occurs, take your dog to a veterinarian immediately.
— PRNewswire

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