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Published: Jul 11, 2012

Dog parks are one of the best places to bring your canine companion for exercise and socialization with other people and dogs. These places are usually fenced in for safety and provide plenty of places for dogs to explore, but there are also some dangers pet owners should be aware of. Knowing the risks involved can help keep you and your dog safe during play.

Most owners know they should check their dogs for external parasites like ticks after a walk in the woods or another outdoor area, but it is also important to be aware of the internal parasites at dog parks. According to WebMD, gastrointestinal parasites like Giardia in dogs and Cryptosporidium can pose a risk. In a recent study of feces collected from dogs in Colorado, researchers found these organisms more often in dogs that frequented dog parks than those that did not, the news outlet reports. Giardia can cause giardiasis, which is treated with an antibiotic or anti-parasitic medication, according to VCA Animal Hospitals.

Infectious diseases can also be spread at the dog park. A coughing dog at the park can pose a threat if infected with the bacteria that causes kennel cough in dogs or canine influenza. Luckily, there are vaccines for dogs to prevent these diseases, and scooping up dog feces can prevent the spread of parvovirus, another infectious disease that is spread through dog waste.