Dog park
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Dog park: Risks you should be aware of in the big city

Having a furry friend can be a great way to feel less lonely in the big city, but if you aren’t lucky enough to have a backyard for them to run around in, a dog park is a great option to ensure that they get the proper amount of exercise that they need to stay happy and healthy.

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Here, you can let your dog off-leash so they can run laps around the perimeter of the park until they’ve completely tired themselves out. In addition to being a great option for exercise, a dog park allows your pet to socialise and make new friends of the same species.

Of course, with all the great benefits that come from utilising a public dog park, there are still some risks involved that you should be aware of.

Some risks involved in utilising a public dog park

Aggressive dogs

While the majority of dogs might seem sweet and friendly, you can’t always trust that this is the case. Dogs are naturally protective–some types of breeds more than others–and can be wildly unpredictable. There are plenty of facts to back this statement up.

A shockingly high number of over four and a half million people are aggressively bitten by dogs each year in the United States, and between 30 and 50 die each year after suffering serious dog attacks.

So, when you visit a dog park, make sure that you ask a dog’s owners before going to give some scritches, just in case they don’t like being touched by strangers. And, even once you’ve gotten the ‘okay’, you should still take note of the dog’s body language.

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You can never predict if or when there will be a first time that a dog attacks someone. If you’re worried that your dog has the potential to harm someone, then you should put extra effort into practising obedience training, so you have a better chance of being able to stop them before they go too far, and you should invest in a backup method for preventing them from biting, like a muzzle or a shock collar.

Sure, both of these methods might make you feel guilty, but imagine the guilt you would feel–if your pet were to hurt someone–plus if you forgo the proper training, the muzzle, or the shock collar and your pet does end up attacking someone then they risk being put down by the state, which makes a little zip zap not look so bad in comparison.

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Diseases

Sure, you love your dog, but you can’t deny how disgusting they can be–some of them feel the need to lick anything that’s put in front of their face. So, it makes sense that they’re so prone to diseases, many of which we are unfortunately able to contract from them.

Salmonella, E coli, and Campylobacter are especially common bacteria for humans to be exposed to through their pets. This is because all dogs, no matter how healthy they are, excrete these bacteria in their faeces.

So, if you are exposed to dog faeces in any way at a dog park, whether picking it up or accidentally stepping in it, it’s important that you wash your hands thoroughly, and remove and launder any clothing or other items that were exposed to the bacteria.

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Thankfully, your pet’s saliva has enzymes that target bacteria to break it down and keep their mouth clean, so you don’t have to worry about them exposing you to Salmonella and E Coli just by licking you.

While a dog’s saliva does have the potential to expose you to disease, it is typically only done so through bites, when the bacteria can enter your bloodstream directly.

One of the most common germs that you could contract through dog bites, or even scratches, is Pasteurella. Exposure to this germ could cause symptoms like swelling, pain, tenderness, and pus drainage.

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Through dog bites, you could also be exposed to Capnocytophaga. This germ can lead to serious infection. Capnocytophaga causes a reaction similar to exposure to Pasteurella, but with additional symptoms like fever, headaches, stomach pain or nausea, and muscle or joint pain.

If left untreated, Pasteurella exposure has the potential to lead to meningitis or sepsis, both of which could potentially be fatal. Arguably the most fatal disease that dogs can spread to humans through their saliva, though incredibly uncommon, is rabies.

This disease is incredibly dangerous since it attacks the brain and central nervous system and, if untreated, can lead to a person’s death just a few days after exposure. So, make sure you’re staying up to date on your dog’s vaccinations to minimise your risk.

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