Dog Park Check - Bellalago
By Jim Young, Manager – Bellalago Veterinary Hospital
We have some results from our visit to Bellalago’s dog park. We once again visited this beautiful dog park on the shores of Lake Toho. In the past we wondered if it was being used. Now, we know it is being used because we did find some fecal samples. Please remember to clean up after your dogs!
We also looked around for possible safety issues and found a few things we were concerned about.
Bellalago's Dog Park
Fecal Float – nothing present (hookworms have been found in the past and are likely still present)
Direct – nothing present
WATER BOWLS: Once again we want to warn dog parents about the drinking bowls provided. The picture is from one of our previous inspections. It’s the same bowls as before. The drinking bowls at the dog park are not safe. They do not drain contaminated water. In fact, they add clean water to the dirty water in the bowl. Dumping out the bowls is not enough to prevent disease. The bowls themselves appear to be made out of plastic and would be very difficult to successfully clean as we did with the stainless steel drinking fountains at the other parks. Dogs drinking from the dog park bowls are at increased risk for common water borne diseases like Leptospirosis and Coccidia. These diseases are spread by wildlife like birds and raccoons. There were birds and wildlife present nearby. We have portable folding drinking bowls available for your pet at the hospital. Please feel free to stop by and pick one up. They’re FREE!
Coccidia is a tough one to prevent as it is so easily spread by wildlife. As wildlife often use water bowls and puddles as baths, dogs should not be allowed to drink from unclean bowls or standing water. Will result in diarrhea. Beyond not allowing pets to drink from contaminated sources, there is no prevention for Coccidia. Medical treatment is required.
Leptospirosis is a disease that can be spread to humans, but it can be easily prevented by making sure your dog is up to date on their vaccines. Also, providing clean drinking water and bowls to your dog will help reduce the risk.
In this heat, dogs will search out a source for water. Make sure that you prevent them from using these water bowls! Again, we have free collapsible water bowls you can pick up and use!
GATE: The Bellalago Dog Park is smaller than the other nearby ones. As such, it seems that most people use the two sides as one large park by opening the gate in the middle fence. Please remember to shut this gate if more than one dog is using the park. This is especially true if one of the dogs is unfriendly or there is a difference in size between the two. Before releasing your dog in the park, check to make sure this gate is closed.
DANGEROUS DRIVERS: We witnessed someone drive their minivan down the sidewalk next to the dog parks during the short time we were there. We cannot explain why this person chose to do so as there was no other traffic present and the road was clear. While we’re not here to be traffic cops, we do have concerns about people walking their pets to and from the dog park if people are using the sidewalks as a shortcut or lane of traffic. Of course, when using the dog park make sure the gates are closed tightly, that your pet is back on leash prior to leaving, and that the leash and collar are tight and being worn properly. With drivers like we witnessed, it is also important to make sure that extendable leashes are kept short and locked! We don’t even want to think about what might happen if a dog were to get loose! [We don’t normally consider traffic as a danger, but the person driving down the sidewalk certainly made it one! Hopefully this is not a normal thing!]
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!
METHODOLOGY: We ran 3 samples randomly selected from the many 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.