Fido-Hazard: Health Dangers at the Dog Park

There are worse things at a dog park than a fight. Avoid parasites and communicable diseases with a few simple tips from Dr. Caroline Patten of Liberty Vet Clinic.


Dog parks are a great place to socialize your dog and to let them burn off some energy. But there are a few precautions you should take before allowing your dog to enter a dog park.

It is important that your dog is up to date on all of his vaccinations. Puppies should finish their puppy series of vaccines before going to the dog park. Dogs can pick up many different viruses and bacteria at the dog park. At a minimum your dog should be up to date on parvo virus, rabies, distemper, and upper respiratory vaccines. Vaccines can prevent many serious and fatal diseases.

Intestinal Parasites
A fecal test should be checked at least once a year and regular dewormings are recommended.

Intestinal parasites are easily transmitted at a dog park. Many intestinal parasites can live in the soil at a dog park and are spread when your dog ingests the soil. Intestinal parasites can also be passed in the feces of an infected dog.

These parasites are easily transmitted to another dog at the park if the dog accidentally ingests a piece of the feces. Communal water bowls can transmit bacteria between dogs as well.

External Parasites
All dogs should be treated year round for fleas and ticks. Dogs can easily pick up fleas and ticks while at the dog park so prevention is the best strategy. There are many great flea and tick products on the market right now and they are very effective. Dogs should be treated every month for the whole year.

Winter can be particularly dangerous because many owners believe colder temps always kill parasites. In the case of severe cold snaps they do, but winters in our area are generally mild, leaving the possibility that parasites can remain active.

She and her husband, Bret Asbury (a law professor), moved to a twin on Fox Street in 2013 with their children Gus and Marlowe. She set up Liberty Vet Clinic in Roxborough soon after. More here.

Liberty Vet Clinic
8919 Ridge Ave, Philadelphia
(215) 483-1066

Dr. Patten, owner of Liberty Vet Clinic in Roxborough, has extensive experience in preventative care, dental procedures, emergency medicine, and soft tissue surgery. She lives on Fox Street in East Falls with her husband and their two sons.

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