Safety first! Common dog-park related medical mishaps and how pet owners can prevent them

July 14, 2016

The costs of injuries at the dog park are, well, no walk in the park for your clients. Make sure they understand how to avoid risks while enjoying the puppy playground.

(Getty Images)Summer is here, and dog lovers are relying heavily on local dog parks so their four-legged family members can play and socialize. But with the increasing popularity of off-leash dog parks, helping your clients keep safety measures top of mind is paramount. 

The most common injury annually see by veterinarians is soft tissue injuries or sprains, which affected nearly 24,000 insured dogs last year, according to a release from Nationwide. Head trauma from dogs crashing into objects or one another accounted for the most expensive condition, with an average cost of $591 per pet. 

The most common dog-park related medical conditions and their costs for clients

Sprains & soft tissue injuries - $225

Lacerations or bite wounds - $361

Kennel cough/upper respiratory infection - $174

Insect bites - $143

Head trauma - $591

Hyperthermia or heat stroke - $579

"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," says 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..." 

So, what do you need your clients to know before they take Bella out for the day? Your first tip should be to research the rules and regulations of the park. In the meantime, here are a few simple but important tips for ensuring a fun and safe trip to the dog park for your veterinary patients and clients. 


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  • Obey all posted rules and regulations. They're there for a reason! 


  • Pay attention to your dog at all times. 



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  • 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.


  • Keep your dogs in their designated area. Many dog parks have designated areas for large and small dogs.



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  • Don't bring a puppy less than four months old.


  • Make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations



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  • Keep a collar on your dog.


  • Proper ID tags that include contact information. Microchipping is recommended to ensure an even safer park visit for you and your pup. 



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  • On warm days, avoid the dog park during peak temperature hours.


  • Make sure to bring water and a bowl.


  • Look for signs of overheating. This can include 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.