Dogs need exercise and dog parks offer that along with socialization with other dogs. While dog parks are great places for your pet to let off some steam and play, they do have some hidden dangers. One of these risks comes from the fact there are often no requirements in place for dogs to have prior veterinary care before entering the park. This lack of requirements puts your dog at risk when interacting with others that are not up to date on parasite prevention or other vaccines.
A study was conducted by collecting more than 30,000 dog fecal samples from 30 different dog parks. Pet owners were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their dog's anti-parasitic medications they were using. This study resulted in showing one in five dogs was positive for intestinal parasites.
The parasites were more common in younger dogs, but there were parasites found in samples from dogs of all ages. The study also revealed about sixty-five percent of the dog owners reported they were administering parasite preventatives, so these dogs would have been significantly less likely to become infected in these parks.
What Diseases Can be Found in Dog Parks
A lot of parasites and viruses that affect dogs can be found in dog parks and other outdoor venues. Some of these diseases can be found in water, soil, and even in the air. Good vaccines can prevent these diseases and their transmission to other dogs (and humans, too!). Dog owners should talk to their vets and ensure their dog is up to date on all vaccines before taking them to public parks or other public areas.
Some of the top diseases your dog should be vaccinated for include:
- Bordetella and various respiratory diseases
- Canine distemper
Rabies is one of the diseases that affect dogs which can seriously affect humans as well. Another disease common to dogs that affect humans is leptospirosis which has bacteria that live in standing water and are passed through the urine of an infected animal. If a dog becomes infected with leptospirosis, it can lead to liver or kidney failure and even death.
These are some of the parasite infections found in dogs:
Giardia is a parasite that is often undetected as it does not lead to clinical signs but sheds cysts intermittently. A dog can become infected and begin spreading this parasite before they ever show signs of being sick. Giardia can be found throughout the United States and has no preference or specific region. Giardia is typically transmitted through water, feces, soil, or other animals. There is medication for this parasite that can be found in your vet clinic.
One of the most common parasites found in dogs is roundworms, especially young dogs. Roundworms are thick, white, long worms that grow to be several inches long. They live in a dog's intestines and can cause GI upset and malnourishment. Standard deworming medications can be used to treat roundworms if your dog becomes infected with them.
One of the most severe GI parasites in dogs is hookworms. This parasite attaches to your dog's intestine lining and feeds on the dog's blood. If an infection becomes severe it can lead to serious blood loss and anemia. A dog would require a blood transfusion if the infection reaches this level. Hookworms are also susceptible to standard deworming medications.
Other Diseases That Affect Dogs
Other than the diseases a dog can contract by visiting a dog park, skin diseases are common for them as well. A dog has a variety of species of bacteria that can reside on its skin. These bacteria can be there without signs until certain conditions create an environment where the bacteria can grow in number and turn into an infection. This infection could be an allergic reaction, a wound, a flea infestation, or another underlying disease.
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