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Dog Park Safety Tips and Common Medical Mishaps

While frolicking in the park can be great exercise and a good time for our playful pooches, some canines may return home from the dog park with more than just new four-legged friends. Medical conditions commonly associated with a visit to the dog park include sprains, bites and head trauma. As park visits increase during the warm summer months, Nationwide, the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance, reminds dog owners about the importance of safety when visiting their favorite dog park.

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Last year, Nationwide members spent more than $10.5 million on medical conditions that are commonly associated with dog park fun. Nationwide recently sorted through its database of more than 600,000 insured pets to determine the most common dog park-related medical conditions in 2016. Below are the results:

Most Common Dog Park-Related Medical Conditions

Injury Cost
Sprains & Soft Tissue Injuries $232
Lacerations or Bite Wounds $384
Kennel Cough or Upper Respiratory Infection $171
Insect Bites $155
Head Trauma $552
Hyperthermia or Heat Stroke $704

The most common medical condition on the list was soft tissue injuries or sprains, which affected more than 24,000 Nationwide-insured dogs last year. Hypothermia or heat stroke, brought on by hot weather, accounted for the most expensive condition on the list, with an average cost of $704 per pet.

 “The dog park can be a great place for friendly 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 head to their veterinarian or emergency animal hospital for treatment.”

Below are a few simple but important tips for helping to ensure a fun and safe trip to the dog park:

  • Obey all posted rules and regulations.
  • Visit the dog park without your dog during the days and times you anticipate going to see if the “regulars” are a good fit for your pet.
  • 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 4 months old.
  • Make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations and flea/tick preventive.
  • On warm days, avoid the dog park during peak temperature hours.
  • Bring water and a bowl for your dog to drink from.
  • 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.

Enjoy the park and stay safe!

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