Written by Christina Williams, LVT, Banfield Pet Hospital
The azaleas are in full bloom, temperatures are rising and the pollen count seems to be stuck at "very high". Although early, it seems that spring has sprung in the Lowcountry. That means you can expect to see a lot more dog parents out and about with their furbabies, some are new dog parents, some are seasoned dog parents and others are just passing through. Whatever group you fall into, it’s important to brush up on your dog park etiquette.
Dog Park Safety 101
The lowcountry is home to a variety of wildlife, some which can carry and transmit zoonotic diseases to us and our families (both furry and otherwise). You don't need to be hiking through Francis Marion to come in contact with these diseases either, they are commonly found at your local parks, pet-friendly events or business and even pet stores. By staying on track with routine veterinary visits and ensuring your pet is current on all necessary vaccinations and parasite prevention you can dramatically decrease the risk of you and your families being affected by these illnesses. Preventive recommendations are occasionally posted, but rarely enforced. It is our responsibility as pet parents to keep our fur babies safe by educating ourselves and following veterinary advice. By being careless, we are putting not only our families and pets health at risk but we are also leaving the environment exposed to harboring diseases and parasites that are easily preventable. Simple precautions can prevent the spread of an already alarming population of disease and parasites here in the Lowcountry.
Make sure your pet is up to date on all core vaccinations and parasite testing and parasite prevention (most common include heartworms, fleas, and intestinal parasites).
Confirm that your personal information and your pets is updated with your veterinary professional, day care/boarding facilities. This includes phone numbers (primary and emergency), microchip information and especially e-mail addresses. With technology advancing everyday, it is becoming more popular to offer online access to our pets medical records.
Educate yourself on the different flea/tick/heartworm prevention options available and partner with your veterinarian to choose the best prevention for your pet. Although it can be costly to protect your pets monthly might be one of the most important things we do. By preventing these parasites you are saving your pet from a unpleasant (and often times harmful) experience and yourself from unnecessary expenses. Remember that the choices we make can affect an entire community.
Does your pet have a "go bag"? If not, get one! It is an important part of your pets safety when you're on the go. Some things to include:
- Up to date name tags to attach to your pets collar/harness. Make sure your contact information is correct and legible.
- Current rabies tag to attach to your pets collar/harness and a copy of the current rabies certification.
- Extra leash
- Veterinarian contact information as well as local emergency clinic information.
- Fresh water and bowl.
- Waste bags! One of the most common ways parasites are transferred into the environment and other pets is through feces, so remember how important it is to clean up after your pets.
- Towel (in case water is part of your outing)
1. Limit your pet's exposure to standing water as it is usually home to different harmful parasites and even worse Leptospirosis.
2. Pay close attention to your pets behavior and watch for any signs of discomfort or distress, especially in the warmer temperatures.
3. It is important to know what type of water is around (salt, fresh or brackish). Saltwater toxicity is real so avoid letting your pet drink anything other than what you would.
“I have seen things ranging from major soft tissue trauma, fractured jaws, and teeth to GI viral and parasitic infections from quick visits to the park. Taking the appropriate precautions and preparations may just save your family from unnecessary visits to the veterinarian or worse the emergency room this spring.” -Dr.Leeman