Dogs parks are a great way for social dogs to play and interact with other dogs. Pinellas County maintains seven great dogs parks, and you can visit http://www.pinellascounty.org/park/dog_parks.htm for more details. Many cities within Pinellas County also maintain dog parks. To keep your dog safe at the dog park, it is important that your dog is fully vaccinated for Rabies, Bordetella (Kennel Cough), and Distemper/Parvo and licensed with Pinellas County. Failure to vaccinate your dog can result is illness which in some cases can be fatal. Puppies especially should avoid dog parks until they have received all of their vaccine boosters, and your veterinarian will advise you when it is safe for your puppy to go to the dog park. All dogs should receive a monthly heartworm preventive that also prevents the intestinal parasites roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. Dogs can be infected with intestinal parasites through contact with feces in the ground, and the chance of infection is higher in areas where there are more dogs present like dog parks. People can become infected with roundworms and hookworms, which is another important reason to keep your dog on a monthly heartworm and intestinal parasite preventative. Prompt pick up of dog feces and hand washing are important means to prevent parasite infection for both dogs and humans. There are many great heartworm and intestinal parasite preventives available, and your veterinarian can advise you as to which one is the best for your dog. Monthly flea and tick prevention is important for all dogs but especially for dogs that go to dog parks, where there is a higher population of external parasites. Just like with heartworm preventives, there are many effective options available, from topical to oral medications. Consultation with your veterinarian can determine which is best for your dog.
Good manners and common courtesy are important parts of making the dog park a fun and enjoyable place. All dogs that go to the dog park should be friendly with other dogs. Dog owners should monitor their dogs closely during play and be ready to step in to control their dog if bad behavior occurs. Many times dogs can get overexcited and, just like children, need a few minutes to calm down before resuming play. Dogs in the dog park should be spayed and neutered to prevent hormone related aggression and unwanted litters of puppies. Especially during hot weather, dog owners should limit hard play, encourage frequent water breaks, and take breaks in the shade to prevent overheating. Dog owners should abide by the specific posted rules for each dog park to make sure the dog park experience is great for every dog and person.
For a more in depth discussion of dog parks, tune into our weekly radio broadcast “For the Love of Animals” from 11am-noon on Saturday June 8th on WTIF 1110 AM. Also join our facebook page at Pinellas County Animal Services and see additional information on the County web page at pinellascounty.org or call 727-582-2600. The shelter is located at 12450 Ulmerton Road, Largo Fla.33774. Stop by and see our adoptable animals.