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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

ASK THE VET: Dog Parks and Puppies

(c) photo copyright Carrie Boyko
When Can I Go to the Dog Park?
Dear Dr. Jacki:

My new labradoodle is going to be a big, energetic dog in no time, I am sure. I want to be able to take him places and know he will be friendly with people and dogs. I want to have him visit a dog park to learn to play like a real dog should. When will he be old enough to go to the park safely? Should I start him out in the small dog park? Do you have any suggestions on keeping him healthy if we visit the park a lot? I do not want him to get sick, but I do want him to get plenty of playtime and exercise. Can you give me some advice on the health issues that might be a problem with regular dog park visits.



 Dear K:

Ideally he would not go to a dog park, pet store or grooming facility before having all of his puppy vaccinations. Obviously he will be exposed to more diseases at these locations because there are more animals. I do think that it is very important for him to get plenty of exercise, so a dog park is a great place to go.

I would choose to go to a dog park in the 'off hours.' Find a time when it is not so crowded, like maybe between 9-5 on a weekday, and avoid the weekends initially. See how he does.

It is a must to be on heartworm preventive and flea preventive once a month in Florida. By giving these, it will greatly reduce the chances of getting heartworm disease and becoming infested with fleas. If you notice fleas in his stool, be sure to take a sample to your veterinarian for a stool check.

I hope that gives you a good place to start!

Dr. Jacki
Dr. Jacki, D.V.M.
ASK THE VET on All Things Dog Blog


For more information on Dr. Jacki and her practice, you may find her at  4 Paws House Calls. A personal appointment will likely provide more specific information on your dog and your specific questions.

You can find more of Dr. Jacki's articles at her archives page
Dr. Jacki's opinion or advice does not replace an actual exam with a veterinarian. 

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Thanks to reader C.F. for allowing me to photograph Ziggy, our spokes model for today!

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