Parks or Petri dishes?

By Connie Orcutt • Published: December 1st, 2012
Category: Animal Airwaves

Dog parks are popular gathering spots for pooch lovers and their canine companions. The exercise and socialization are fun for all, but infectious organisms can be lurking to spoil the party.

Dogs can shed parasites, like giardia (gē-ARE-dē –ah) and cryptosporidium (cryp-tō-spore-ID-ē-um), in feces. Most combo heartworm preventive medicines kill hookworms and roundworms but won’t touch these other bugs. Veterinarians recommend annual fecal exams to check for parasites.

Persistently coughing dogs can be spreading viral canine influenza or the bacteria that causes kennel cough, and infectious parvovirus can be shed in the stool. Even leptospirosis (lep-toe-spy-RO-sis) can be contracted by drinking water contaminated with urine. Vaccinations are available for all these diseases, so make sure your dog is protected.

Finally, use your pooper scooping skills to help keep waste loads down.