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Posted on 11-14-2018

Dog Park Check – Bellalago

By Jim Young, Manager – Bellalago Veterinary Hospital

We have some results from our visit to Bellalago’s dog park.  We have some very concerning safety issues we noted.  We’ve outlined those below.  These safety issues were reported to Effrain in the Amenity Center building.  He said he’d pass them on.  For the time being, we currently encourage people not to use the large dog side of the park until repairs are made and the park is once again safe

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.  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.  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. 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.

To add to the concern, the water bowls provided at the park had acorns in them (see pic).  These can be toxic to dogs and soaking the acorns in the water may cause health issues if the water is ingested.  See ACORNS below.

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. 

GATE:  We’ve mentioned the concern about the gate connecting the two sides of the park.  As this has been left open every time we’ve visited, it is important to ensure both entry gates are secured.  As shown in the video above, you can see that the latch on the large dog side is no longer working properly.  This results in the gate not locking.  THIS IS A SIGNIFICANT SAFETY ISSUE!  We strongly recommend not using the large dog side of the park until this gate (and the next issue) is fixed!

BROKEN FENCE:  Also on the big dog side of the park is a fencing issue.  THIS IS ANOTHER SIGNIFICANT SAFETY ISSUE!  A metal wire is supposed to run the length of the bottom of the fence.  This wire is to keep the fence taut and from being easily moved.  This wire has broken and poses a safety hazard to dogs who may be using the space.  As is, dogs can easily push under the fence and escape.  In the video, Jim lifts the bottom of the fence very easily.  Even a small dog could push under it.  This wire also is a safety hazard to humans and dogs who may trip on it.  The wire is painted green and blends in with the grass so please use extreme caution if walking in the big dog side!  (The wire may be visible in the image, but blends in.  We tried to tie it to the fence to prevent injury.)  We strongly recommend not using the large dog side of the park until this is also fixed!

BROKEN WASTE RECEPTACLE:  The bottom of the waste receptacle on the dog station in the large dog side was also broken.  This exposed the waste from other dogs to dogs who might be using the park.  As many dog owners know, dogs often eat strange and disgusting things – including dog waste!  It is important to keep an eye your dog while using the dog park to prevent issues including getting in to the waste from the broken receptacle.  Of course, besides just being gross, eating waste can result in any number of health issues.

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 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.  Additionally, these acorns were in the water bowls (as noted above).  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.

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