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Posted on 11-14-2018

Dog Park Check – Vance Harmon Park

By Jim Young, Manager – Bellalago Veterinary Hospital

Let’s begin by acknowledging the job done by community leaders and how this park is developing!  What a difference from a few months ago when we last did our checks.  We had some serious concerns last time regarding the low fence and the entry gates.  We were astounded to see that the fencing and gates had all been replaced with safer, more functional ones.  Again, this speaks volumes about the leaders in the community!

Vance Harmon Dog Park

Fecal Float – nothing present

Direct – nothing present


FENCING:  While we no longer have concerns about the fencing, we did leave this header here to call out how great the new fencing is.  As we mentioned above, the old fencing was not very tall.  Most bigger dogs could have jumped over it.  The fencing has been replaced with a higher fence that I would be impressed if a dog could clear.  Of course, you should always watch your dog while at the park.  One never knows what dogs are capable of and some are great climbers!

ENTRANCE GATES:  This is another heading that we’re keeping here just to once again call out how much has changed!  The entry gates are functional and easy to use.  They latched securely and the gaps in them were appropriate.  Again, watch your dogs, but this is another concern that won’t be here in the future.

DOGGIE DRINKING FOUNTAINS:  These are some of the nicest doggie drinking fountains we’ve seen!  Their design prevents the drains from being easily plugged so contaminated water can easily flow away.  There are also two of them on both sides of the park!  Wow! 

Unlike the other area parks, there are no bowls at this park holding contaminated water.  We hope that continues!  Such bowls can easily hold water borne diseases like Leptospirosis and Coccidia.  Should these bowls appear, we strongly suggest not allowing your pet to drink from them.  Draining them in to the grass and turning them over would prevent dogs from sneaking drinks.  Do not empty them in to the drinking fountain as it may contaminate it.

Leptospirosis is spread by wild animals and can easily be passed to dogs.  A simple vaccine can prevent it!  This vaccine is usually included in the full vaccine series.  (Remember that the vaccines need to be updated yearly to be effective.) 

Coccidia is also spread by wild animals, but there is no vaccine for it.  When dogs are exposed to Coccidia, it can cause intestinal issues including diarrhea.  The only way to prevent Coccidia is to prevent your dog from being exposed to it.  Use clean bowls and fresh drinking water.  We have FREE collapsible water bowls available at the hospital if you’d like one!  We’d also be happy to answer any questions you may have about the Leptospirosis vaccine and/or Coccidia treatment.

HEARTWORMS:  Mosquitos are likely 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 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 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. 

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