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Dog Park Safety Tips (from VPI Pet Insurance)

September 4, 2010

Off-leash dog parks are becoming increasingly popular in cities across the nation, and for good reason: they're a great place to let your dog run around, play and socialize! But keep in mind, dogs will be dogs - which is why owners need to be extra vigilant about common dog park-related injuries and diseases.

1) Sprains. Playful, excitable dogs are prone to accidents at the park - they can trip in a hole while running or maybe play a little too enthusiastically with a pal, resulting in sprained joints. Be sure to keep a watchful eye on your dog to avoid these types of accidents.

2) Lacerations. Sometimes event he friendliest wrestling match between dogs can turn into a tussle. Cuts and scratches are common dog park injuries, so keep your pooch away from aggressive dogs and look out for foreign objects like fallen branches that could cause harm while dogs are at play.

3) Toxins. Be aware of any chemicals used by park maintenance crews, like fertilizers, snail bait or pesticides. If these chemicals are in use, visit another park or return another day. If you suspect that your dog has been in an area where chemical treatments have been used, clean this feet and legs thoroughly with soap and water, and watch carefully for signs of exposure.

4) Invaders. Regular flea and tick preventative treatment is critical for every dog, especially those that frequent dog parks. Also, be a good park patron by picking up after your dog and reminding others to do the same; internal parasites, viruses and bacteria can be easily transmitted by contact with fecal matter from other dogs.

5) Overheating. No matter what time of year, always have plenty of water on hand to quench your dog's thirst and prevent overheating. Be sure to take frequent water breaks so your dog can stay hydrated. If your dog shows any signs of overheating such as excessive panting, vomiting or sluggishness, contact a veterinarian immediately.

*Thanks to VPI Pet Insurance (www.vetpethealth.com) for the above tips.