Are Dog Parks Safe?

dog-park-signThis question of whether dog parks are safe has been posed many times by dog lovers. There is much debate about this very subject among veterinary healthcare providers. Some feel it is a good way to socialize your furry friend. Others feel dogs could pick up a parasite or other infection, or have a bad interaction with another dog at a park.

Dog parks can be a brewing pot for parasites, viruses, and infections. Just like a child who is exposed to more children at daycare, then at home, they are more likely to pick up a bug. This also goes for dog parks. Most intestinal worms can be found in the soil of dog parks. Why? The eggs are shed in the feces and then they can live in the soil for years. If your dog is not on regular heartworm preventative they are at risk since heartworm prevention also controls most of the common intestinal parasites we see in our area. Nose touching and community water bowls add to the risk of the influenza virus and other upper respiratory infections. These risks definitely have to be weighed before visiting the dog park.

Another thing to think about when visiting a dog park is that not everyone has a realistic view of their dog’s temperament. An aggressive dog may be viewed by one person as a serious problem not to be socialized in an uncontrolled setting like a dog park. Another person with the same dog may find their pet’s dominant and dangerous behavior as acceptable or even humorous. So it’s important to know that your dog at a dog park is at risk of being in an unpleasant situation. Not all pet owners exercise common sense and good judgment when in public.

Are dog parks safe? It’s left up to debate. The best thing you can do for your dog is to keep them up to date on vaccines as well as  heartworm and flea and tick prevention. If your dog really enjoys the park and you understand the possible risks, go for it!  And remember YAYABA – you are your animal’s best advocate.  If you or your dog are not comfortable, leave the park.

Local Dog Parks Near Village Veterinary Hospital, Chapel Hill, NC:

Homestead Dog Park:
Homestead Park
100 Aquatic Drive
Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk
Your dog can run and play without a leash in this 20,000 square foot enclosed area in Homestead Park. The dog park is entered through a double gate to ensure safe release of dogs from leashes. Separate small and large dog areas. The fence is 5 feet high to prevent dogs from escaping. Water and waste mitts are available.

Southern Community Dog Park
Southern Community Park
1000 Dogwood Acres drive (southern entrance)
Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk
Come visit our newest dog park at Southern Community Park. The approximate 2-acre dog park has water, a small dog area and will be split 50/50 shaded and sunny. Waste mitts are available.
When using the dog parks please follow these rules of behavior:
Dog owners must be 12 years or older or be supervised by an adult at all times while in park
Dogs must be at least 6 months old
Dogs must be leashed while entering and exiting the park
Dog owners must have leash in hand at all times
Dogs must be under voice control at all times while in the park
Dog owners must be in the park and within view of their dogs while the dogs are using the park
Dog feces must be cleaned up by owners
Dog owners must fill in any holes created by their dogs
Dogs must be removed from the dog park at the first sign of aggression
Female dogs in heat are prohibited from the park
Please remember that that our dog parks are the Town’s only leash-free dog run area. Dogs using all other parks, trails, greenways, or open space areas must be on a maximum 6-foot leash. In addition, dogs are prohibited from entering athletic fields.

Local Dog Parks Near Falconbridge Animal Hospital, Durham, NC:

Piney Wood Dog Park
(located at 400 E. Woodcroft Pkwy.) Features 4 separate enclosed areas – a small dog area, large dog area, program area and entrance area. Amenities include water fountains, waste bag dispensers, benches and a kiosk. Dogs must be licensed with the county to use dog parks in this area. Helpful Link for dog registration information:
Small Dog Area
15 inches or smaller
30 pounds and under

Large Dog Area
15 inches and taller
30 pounds and over

Program Area
The Program Area is open to all, but also can be used for special playgroups or an organized activity.

Entrance Area
The Entrance Area is a smaller version of the program area where a dog can be taken if they need a ‘time out’ or 1 on 1 time is needed. This area is open to everyone.

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