Dog Park Safety: Healthy Pet/Happy Pet 6

By: Dr. Amanda Thomas

I hope your summer is off to an exciting and healthy start! Most of you are getting outdoors with your pets, taking advantage of our great weather by going to the local dog parks and to many of the dog-friendly areas in our community.

Let’s make sure it’s a fun, safe and comfortable summer for you and your pets. One of the most enjoyable things my clients do with their dogs in the summertime is going to the Barc Parc at 62nd Ave. North and Bypass Highway 17, next to the new Grand Strand YMCA. It’s always a joy for me to talk to dog owners on my way into the YMCA in the evenings, and see how excited and happy their dogs are to be there! This is a great place to let your dog get their needed exercise by playing with other dogs off-leash. It’s a fun social outing for people too – you will meet lots of great pet owners whose interests are like yours!

The Barc Parc is open sunrise to sunset, is fully fenced, and has a small dog side – which I recommend for pets less than 25 lbs. – and a big dog side. Disabled person friendly, it has concrete trails, lots of grassy areas, and trees for shade. This dog park is rated Five Star. Human supervision is a MUST, and only those dogs that you know are super dog-friendly and playful should be brought there… bring extra poop bags with you as well as a water bottle even though there are dog drinking fountains on-site. Older dogs love to go to the dog park too, but you need to consider that older pets will experience more muscle and joint pain after a day of doggie playtime. Every now and again I will see dogs in my vet clinic who have had “disagreements” with other dogs at the Barc Parc, but that is the exception rather than the rule.

People will often ask me if their pets can pick up parasites in places like dog parks and other dog-friendly areas of Myrtle Beach. It is true that many different types of animal parasites live on the ground, in the water and on plant material, so there is some risk of infection. I recommend that all of our pets (dogs and cats) be given monthly medications for internal and external parasites, because these diseases can be transmitted from pet to pet and, yes, from pets to humans! You can easily keep your pets parasite free if you provide them with their needed monthly Heartworm and Flea prevention, year-round.

Viruses also live in the soil where domestic and wild animals have been, so I regularly advise that new puppy owners refrain from using high-traffic dog areas, like dog parks, until their puppy has completed his/her vaccination series. This series of vaccinations provides immunity from diseases like canine distemper virus, parainfluenza, parvovirus, hepatitis and rabies virus. Your veterinarian will ensure that your pet is fully vaccinated by 4 months of age   (adult animals should be vaccinated annually).

Whatever your summer plans may be, your pet’s lives can be enriched with great experiences when they get to enjoy the days of summer with you!