Dangers at Dog Parks:The Most Common Injuries and Illnesses

Dog Parks are the fastest growing segments of city parks in the US. It is a great way for dogs to get together and socialize and exercise. Our dogs need exercise to stay healthy and burn calories. The body can’t stay healthy and flexible without activity and movement.  There are dangers and illnesses to consider.

Socialization in dog parks helps dog enjoy other dogs and people without being intimidated and fearful. Young dogs will learn important lessons, such as, not all dogs like to be jumped on and have their faces pawed. Older dogs may growl and snap without harm. The youngster will learn how to approach and read behavior in other dogs.  That skill will let them know which dogs want to get acquainted and which don’t.

Most dogs in a dog park setting are well socialized and like other dogs. There are people that haven’t ever been in that setting and their dog may be aggressive or fearful. You have to learn to read dog behavior as well as your dog in those situations.

Dogs can be punctured or cut by glass, wire, fences, or other dogs. Wounds can be washed with warm soapy water and treated with aspirin and an antibiotic ointment to help with infection. Aspirin will help with the pain of a puncture or a cut. Use caution if your dog is painful. Dogs with bite ANYBODY if in pain. ( You can wrap a leash or belt around the nose to use as a temporary muzzle).Get the wound or puncture checked out if it is painful, bleeding quite a bit , 0r large and deep.


Dogs need to burn calories and move, but sometimes play causes lumps, bumps, sprains, and strains. A dog may start limping after a trip to the park. Aspirin works great for minor pains and can be given at 10mg per pound twice daily. (10 pound dog=80mg twice daily. 30 pound dog 325 mg aspirin twice daily). Make sure and check for cracked toenails, swollen, sprained, or fractured toes, and swellings due to cuts or punctures.

Dogs love to chase and bite at flies, bees, and wasps. After they grab one of the last two, they may be rewarded with a large swelling of the face and muzzle. Administer an antihistamine just as soon as you can. Most antihistamines are safe as long as they don’t contain decongestants like pseudoephedrine. Benadryl, Claritin, Allertec, and Allegra can all be used. 11 Practical Home Remedies has the dosages for antihistamines and other over the counter drugs. The free download is to the right of this blog. The swelling will take a few hours to go down, but if your pet starts to look like a balloon or has trouble breathing, take them into the vet ER.

If it is hot outside the internal temperature of your dog can quickly rise during strenuous play. If excessive panting or staggering is evident, take their temperature or immediately douse your dog with cool water. Temperatures above 106 can bake the blood and cause heat stroke. It’s never too early to wet down a hot dog or pack in ice to treat or prevent overheating or on the way to the vet. Bulldogs, pugs, and boxers are especially at risk for over heating

Kennel cough can be easily transmitted to other dogs during close quartered panting, or full frontal sniffing each other to get acquainted. Kennel cough is a relative of whooping cough in humans and can cause an enduring bronchitis, or can lead to pneumonia in young and older dogs. In most cases it causes a bronchitis and cough for a week or two. A Bordetella or kennel cough vaccine will result in milder symptoms or prevent the disease depending on the immunity of the individual. If your dog starts coughing you can use children’s Robitussin DM for the symptoms while you wait for your regular vet  to open. You can use 1 tsp-tbsp 3 xs daily.

Giardia is a protozoon that is shed by infected dogs, dogs that are carriers, and urban wildlife. It loves standing water and streams. It causes watery diarrhea and sometimes vomiting. Most dogs are exposed and immune to it, but young dogs and others that haven’t been exposed to it, or can’t fight it off may develop diarrhea.  Try fasting for 12 hours, then feeding white rice mixed with chicken baby food in small amounts for the next 24-48 hours to help control those messy symptoms. Your vet will need a fresh poop sample to run a few tests for the bug. It is treated with panacur (febendazole) or metronidazole to kill the invader.

Never take a puppy to a dog park unless it has vaccinated for parvo and bordetella. Young puppies can be safely socialized at family and friend’s houses, safe from infected puppies that carry the troublesome and fatal virus. Always call before to ask if any sick puppies have been in the house or area for the last two years and don’t let the puppy wander in public areas near the house. Although parvovirus can make puppies or young adults sick with severe vomiting and bloody diarrhea, it rarely affects dogs over 2 years old. Most dogs over one year of age that have received the puppy series are protected from catching the disease. Parvo shots are usually given at 8, 12, and 16 weeks of age with a bordetella vaccine also given during that time.

More and more recalls and medical issues are centered on commercial food, treats, and chews. In Dog Dish Diet, I share what ingredients and types of foods are best. I even teach you how to home cook for your dog. Don’t expect your own vet to teach you about ingredients and home cooking. We were taught to diagnose and treat, not to prevent with a better diet!

Dr. Greg’s Dog Dish Diet

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