Dog Park Dangers

Today’s guest post comes from: Heather Reynolds is a pet lover and internet journalist at Trupanion, North America’s fastest growing pet insurance company. Trupanion offers a simple, customizable pet insurance policy with no payout limits and 90% coverage of veterinary bills. Enrolled pets receive lifetime coverage for diagnostic tests, surgeries, and medications if they get sick or are injured, with no incident, annual or lifetime limit.

I love dog parks. For me, they are a great way to exercise and socialize my energetic dog that lives in a small apartment with no yard. But unfortunately, there are risks that you must weigh when bringing your dog to one of these parks. As long as we as pet owners understand the risks, we can minimize them as well as have a plan of action in place in the unfortunate event that something does occur. Here is a list of some of these dangers.

Unhealthy Dogs
First and foremost, you need to make sure your dog is healthy and up-to-date on all vaccinations before bringing him to a dog park. Not only will most dog parks require proof of these things, it’s much better for your dog in general. You never know what your pooch may encounter while sniffing around the edges of the park and he needs to be protected in case he comes across a wild animal (like a squirrel) or simply an unhealthy dog. Your dog also needs to be spayed or neutered. There is nothing worse than an accidental pregnancy taking place at a dog park. You can’t guarantee the other dogs at the park are in great health, but you do your best to protect your dog if they aren’t.

Contaminated Water
Giardia is a very serious health concern in dogs and can be picked up easily in dog parks if conditions are not properly managed. Giardia cysts (the part that actually makes a dog sick) can live several weeks to months outside in wet, cold environments. Standing water is a definite danger zone, which includes water dishes left out at dog parks. Take a portable dog bowl and a bottle of water with you that are exclusively for your dog, and make sure they don’t play in or drink out of standing water throughout the park.

This may be obvious, but it deserves to be mentioned. If you have one of those dogs who likes to play fetch, you may not see any deep holes that could pose a problem for running dogs that are only paying attention to a bouncing ball. A dog running a full speed can do quite a bit of damage if they step into a hole along the way. Do a quick scan of the area you will be playing in to make sure you are aware of any dangers.

Small Children
While I think it’s great to involve children early in dog ownership, children can pose a bit of a problem at dog parks. First, without trying to be aggressive, curious children may appear that way to dogs that aren’t used to them. A child running up to an unfamiliar dog because he thinks the dog is cute and fun, can cause a dog to feel like it has to defend itself, and that will never lead to a good outcome.

Other Dog Owners with Treats
Especially if you have a dog that is on a special diet, like I do, it’s important to make sure she is not sneaking treats from other well-intentioned but uninformed dog owners. Many people bring treats to the park for their own dogs, and see no reason to share the wealth. Excessive treats can be dangerous for any dog, not just those with dietary restrictions.

If you keep yourself focused and prepared, a trip to the dog park can be an incredibly enjoyable experience for both dog and owner. What are some things you have found dangerous at dog parks?


  1. Carol says:

    My sisters dog caught Giardia when it was a puppy, that was definitely not fun to treat! Great and informative post!

Comments are closed.