Dog Park Check – Solivita
By Jim Young, Manager – Bellalago Veterinary Hospital
Solivita always has a beautiful dog park and this visit was no exception. It has been closed and only reopened the day prior to our visit. Due to this, we didn’t find a lot of samples. We met with Sherri from the Solivita HOA there and spoke to her regarding a few of the things we saw. An outline of everything is below.
Solivita's Dog Park
Few samples were found due to the park being closed for an extended time prior to our visit.
Fecal Float – nothing present (hookworms have been found in the past and are likely still present)
Direct – nothing present (Coccidia was present at our last visit)
DOGGIE DRINKING FOUNTAIN: As before, we have an issue with how the doggie drinking fountain is being used. By plugging the drain, the contaminated water is unable to properly drain. The rubber stopper that we’ve mentioned in the past was present in the water fountain. When we lifted it up, the bottom of the stopper was covered in a black mold/mildew. As we’ve mentioned before, this stopper is not easy to clean and we encouraged Sherri to throw it away. We also mentioned that a drain piece could be purchased that would prevent such stoppers from being used in the future and better aid draining the water.
Dogs drinking from the plugged drinking fountain are at risk for common waterborne diseases like Leptospirosis and Coccidia. These diseases are spread by wildlife like birds and raccoons. As noted above, Coccidia was present in previous samples we collected!
Two quick notes regarding some feedback we received from Solivita residents after our previous checks:
- We were told that there was a belief among some in the Solivita community that Coccidia could be prevented through vaccines. Unfortunately, this is completely inaccurate. We checked with both of our doctors and all major veterinary vaccine manufacturers and no one had heard of such a vaccine. We truly wish such a vaccine existed, but it does not. The only way to prevent Coccidia is to prevent pets from drinking contaminated water. This is why we were handing out the collapsible water bowls. Using this, your dog can always be sure your dog is drinking from an uncontaminated, safe bowl. If you’d like a FREE bowl, stop by the hospital and pick one up!
- The water that comes from the fountain is the exact same water that comes out of the faucet in your homes. It is safe to drink! The problem is not in the water as it comes out. The problems originate with the wildlife that share Solivita with its human residents. Unfortunately, wildlife like birds, lizards, and small mammals can contaminate water that is left standing. The contamination is not cured when the water is poured out and replaced due to the dish remaining contaminated. We applaud the addition of dish soap on the fence near the water fountain. While we cannot guarantee that this will eliminate the Coccidia or Leptospirosis in the same way a hospital-grade cleaner can, we do believe this is a better option than using a contaminated bowl. We still worry that the dish soap may not be strong enough to kill these microbes. Additionally, cleaning the dishes at the park may not leave them being clean enough as the park does not have a dedicated wash sink. Finally, dish soap residue may cause diarrhea if not fully rinsed. A better option to cleaning the bowls at the park is using a bowl that you can take home and clean between uses. We have FREE foldable bowls at the hospital. Please feel free to stop by and pick one up!
HOOKWORMS: Hookworms were not found this time, but have been found in the past. Hookworm eggs can survive in the soil for years so once they are present, they will always be a threat! Hookworms can be prevented with products like HeartGard, Trifexis, Sentinel Spectrum, or ProHeart 6. Having your dog on a preventative is important! Hookworms can be spread to humans! For more information, give us a call.
HEARTWORMS: Mosquitos were present and are present just about everywhere in Florida. Mosquitos carry heartworms which are VERY present in the local area. We have a lot of patients who are heartworm positive which can have a significant negative impact on quality of life and life expectancy! Heartworms can be easily prevented with products like HeartGard, Trifexis, Sentinel Spectrum, or ProHeart 6. For more information about Heartworm prevention, give us a call!
Prevention is the best strategy to keep your pet happy and healthy! Give us a call so we can ensure your pet's well-being before they head to the park!
ACORNS: During this time of year, the oak trees will drop lots of acorns. There are several beautiful oak trees nearby the park. Unfortunately, dogs like to eat acorns and these can make them sick. In fact, acorns can be toxic in larger quantities. Even single acorns can become an obstruction in the body and cause health issues. Much like mosquitoes, acorns are a fact of life in Florida. Again, it is important to monitor your dog to prevent eating acorns.
TOYS: We noted some toy bins that were new. Some of the toys looked like a lot of fun! We do have a couple of cautions about the toys. Remember to inspect the toys prior to use. Make sure they are in good repair, not falling apart, or have pieces that may be easily removed. These can cause obstructions in the stomach or intestines and result in large, expensive surgeries. We also recommend cleaning and disinfecting these regularly. Just like with humans, sharing things can result in the spread of disease. The hard plastic toys should be easy enough to clean. Ones made of fabric or porous materials may require a bit more creativity.
METHODOLOGY: We ran 3 samples randomly selected from the specimens we collected. With each of the randomly selected samples, we did a fecal float checking for parasites. We also randomly selected one sample for a direct screen for bacteria and other microscopic issues.