We visited Bellalago’s dog park. This park has always been interesting to us. First, before entering the park itself are some dispensing stations for rawhide-type treats. We usually don’t recommend these for our patients as they aren’t very healthy and can result in GI issues. One station also had some issues with proper drainage resulting in a gross trap for yucky stuff. We’re also a bit worried about those treats being stored outdoors. The high humidity in Florida can cause them to quickly grow molds or mildew which can also be dangerous.
Finally, we had concerns about access to water. The bowls we greatly disliked in the past were either missing or damaged (no loss there!), but there was no replacement. It’s important to keep your dog well-hydrated while you’re there so don’t forget to pack a bowl and water!
Bellalago's Dog Park
Fecal Float – nothing present (hookworms have been found in the past and are likely still present)
Direct – nothing present
What your pet needs to be their safest at the Bellalago Dog Park –
- Be up to date on vaccinations including rabies, distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus, leptospirosis, and Bordetella. You may wish to ask your veterinarian if the canine flu vaccine is recommended.
- Heartworm protection – mosquitos are definitely present in EVERY dog park. Mosquitos carry heartworms which can cause significant health problems for your dog! We usually recommend HeartGard or ProHeart products.
- Flea and tick protection – fleas and ticks are common when outdoors. They can also be carried by other dogs which share the dog park. They can live on plants, tunnels, and play items just waiting for your dog to come by! We usually recommend NexGard.
- Fresh water in a clean bowl – Most of the dog parks we visit have a source of clean, fresh water. That’s fine, but we recommend using a clean water bowl and not any which might be present. This will help minimize any exposure to Coccidia, a common microscopic parasite which can cause severe diarrhea. We have FREE collapsible bowls at the hospital. Stop by and pick one up!
- Attention – Dogs not only enjoy interacting with their favorite humans, but need that attention to make sure they don’t get in to other trouble! Among other things, pay particular attention to what they’re putting in their mouths or eating, when they’re around other dogs, and when they’re around possible points of escape/egress.
WATER BOWLS: Or, the lack thereof! We had very strong feelings about how dangerous the previous bowls were. We’re glad to see they’re gone (or at least no longer in use). However, until they’re replaced with something, it will be critical to bring your own bowl! Dogs can easily become dehydrated or overheat in the hot sun – even in the cooler months of the year! If you need an easily-carried, collapsible bowl, stop by the hospital and pick up a FREE one!
If someone does put out new bowls before our next visit, please use caution. Unless the replacement is more like a drinking fountain, the replacement could be problematic! Dogs drinking from unsafe 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. Again, this issue can easily be avoided by using personal bowls that can be cleaned between uses. 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. It will result in diarrhea. Beyond not allowing pets to drink from contaminated sources, there is no prevention for Coccidia. Medical treatment is required. Again, use of a personal bowl is recommended.
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.
FENCING: We want to note that it appears the community has been responsive to many of our concerns has fixed the issues we reported in the past. We didn’t find any obvious issues with the fencing this time. As always, owners need to keep an eye on their dogs at all times while at the park.
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, 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, 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 certain times of year, the oak trees will drop lots of acorns. There are several beautiful oak trees providing shade to 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.
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.