Dog socialization is important to prepare your dog for new situations and give them the skills to handle new interactions with confidence. Dog socialization benefits your dog in many ways, however, there are some potential concerns that you should also be aware of and take into consideration with your outings.
Socializing your dog involves exposing your dog to experiences, sounds, smells, people and other dogs to help them learn and grow about how to handle these types of situations in the future. There are lots of great reasons to socialize your dog but there are also some potential concerns that you should be aware of.
Socializing Comes With Potential Risks
If you take your dog hiking or walking outdoors, you run the risk of ticks and with ticks comes Lyme disease. Vaccinations for Lyme disease are only about 75% effective in preventing the disease. Consider ninety-five percent of all confirmed Lyme disease cases come from from just 14 states, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin (CDC, 2015). Snakes and other predators are also a concern. If you take your dog off-leash, ensure that you’ve taken the appropriate avoidance classes for the predators in your area to minimize the risk of injury. As with humans, dogs can always slip, trip and otherwise injure their legs while hiking. The smoother the terrain the fewer chances of injury but know that accidents happen to all of us and your dog is no exception.
Swimming in lakes can be problematic for ear and skin infections, hot spots and ingested toxins. Dogs can also fall victim to water intoxication which is a relatively rare but frequently lethal condition that results from the body taking in more water than it can handle. While this is more common in smaller dogs, larger dogs can also fall victim to water intoxication.
If your dog is a frequent swimmer, know the signs of water intoxication.
- Loss of coordination (stumbling, falling, staggering)
- Increased salivation
- Pale gums
- Dilated pupils
- Glazed eyes
Dog Parks & Group Play
At Barx Parx, we pride ourselves on being a safe place for your dog to play, but there are certain risks with any group play scenario. Contagious illnesses like Kennel Cough, Dog Flu and Canine Papilloma Virus are the biggest concerns when dogs play with each other.
Keeping Things Safe
At Barx Parx, we strive to be the safest place that your dog can play and socialize. We provide a safe, exciting and stimulating environment to enhance your dog’s quality of life with our supervised group play environment.
Barx Parx requires vaccinations for the Bordetella virus which is the most common cause of kennel cough. Bordetella vaccination does not prevent against every cause of kennel cough. The only way to completely prevent kennel cough is to keep your dog away from other dogs which is hardly realistic or advisable.
Rabies vaccinations are required by law and are an absolute must for visitors to Barx Parx. Infection is 100% fatal in dogs and it is spread through the saliva.
Canine Distemper is typically protected by a combination vaccine that is called “DHLPP”or “DHPP” which protects against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus and sometimes Laptospirosis. The signs of distemper infection are typically runny nose, vomiting and diarrhea.
Dog Flu is another common concern, there are two strains of identified dog flu (H3N2 and H3N8). Neither of these strains are communicable to humans but they do come with common flu-like symptoms in your dog which include fever, cough and runny nose. There is a vaccine for the dog flu although we’ve received mixed reviews with regard to the effectiveness. If you are interested in the dog flu vaccination, we recommend that you consult with your veterinarian.
The Papilloma Virus causes small, clusters of warts that are very contagious from dog to dog. Often found in puppies ages two and under, the warts are irregular in shape and typically grow on the lips, inside the mouth and on the tongue. The warts are generally harmless, but can be uncomfortable depending on their size and location. Most socialized dogs contract the Papilloma Virus during the course of their life and many vets compare them to Chicken Pox in humans. Once the body learns how to fight this virus, it generally cannot be contracted again. Dogs with healthy immune systems typically fight this off in three to six weeks.
We ask that dogs who are showing signs of Papilloma Virus not visit the park until signs of the virus have cleared up. Daycare and boarding dogs are inspected for signs of Papilloma Virus. If we notice symptoms, we will keep your dog separated for the duration of his or her stay with us and ask that he or she not return until signs of the infection have disappeared. This is usually just a few weeks and we will happily put your membership on freeze during that time.
Our veterinary consultant has recommended that we require the above-mentioned vaccinations however vaccinations are not the only answer. The floor of the dog park, play equipment, toys and bowls at Barx Parx are disinfected and sanitized on a daily basis to help prevent the spread of any communicable diseases. The walls of the play area are painted with special Microbicidal paint that kills 99% of bacteria within two hours of contact.
We do always defer to your vet for any exceptions that need to be made. If you dog is unable to receive any vaccinations due to age or other policy exceptions need to be made to accommodate your pup, please just ask your veterinarian for a letter and we will make exceptions where necessary.
What You Can Do
Keeping your dog well socialized, healthy, active and happy is the best thing you can do for his or her well being! Ensuring that your dog is up to date on required vaccinations will minimize the risk of infections like Bordetella, Rabies and Canine Distemper. A healthy diet will ensure that your dog’s immune system is healthy and will reduce the amount of time it takes for his or her body to build an immunity to Canine Papilloma Virus. Always follow your vet’s advice when it comes to vaccinations and the health of your pet to ensure a long, healthy life.