Your dog views you as his best friend. Here is your chance to be viewed as his best health ally by keeping him safe and happy during your dog park visits.
Before You Go into a Dog Park:
• Keep a well-stocked dog first aid kit in your vehicle that you can immediately access in case your dog gets ill or injured at the dog park.
• Enroll in a veterinarian-approved dog first aid/CPR class for your dog’s sake so you will know what to do – and what not to do – in a pet emergency when minutes count.
• Keep a spare leash, collar, bottled water and a bath towel in your vehicle for pet emergencies.
• Employ a Plan B. If you arrive at the dog park and see aggressive, unsupervised dogs charging other dogs trying to enter, do not enter. Treat your dog to a vigorous leashed walk in a scenic area instead to keep him safe.
• Do not bring a baby or toddler into the dog park. The eye-to-eye level stare from a toddler could invoke aggression from a dog in the park.
• Download an app that contains the contact info for the nearest veterinary clinic and Emergency Veterinary clinic. Also download the Pet First Aid app from the American Red Cross.
Inside the Dog Park:
• Do not leave your dog on a leash in a dog park. It can motivate more aggressive dogs to try to bully your dog, who cannot easily get away to de-escalate the situation.
• Know how to safely stop a dog fight. Do not reach in to grab a collar. Inside, perform the “wheel barrow” maneuver. Grab the back legs of the aggressor, lifting them up to take away his footing and using your elbow at his shoulder to prevent him from biting you.
• Fight Breakup Option #2: Throw a backpack or chair between the sparring dogs and once they are separated, use your body to block either from regaining direct stares at the other.
• Learn how to convert a six-foot nylon leash as a makeshift muzzle restraint to stop your dog from biting.
• Recognize early signs of your dog becoming overheated: heavy panting, staggering, bright red gums. Remove him from the dog park and in a shaded area, place his paws in cool water (not cold) to reduce his body core temperature.
• Treat bleeding wounds by placing a gauze pad on the site (or a sock or bandana). If possible, elevate the wound site above the dog’s heart to slow down the flow of blood, especially in the case of an arterial bleeding. Place layers of gauze until the bleeding stops but never peek at the wound because you risk tearing healthy tissue as the site is trying to clot.
• If your dog gets stung by a bee or wasp and has a reaction (swelling, breathing difficulties), try removing the stinger using the edge of your credit card. Take a safety pin and burst a gel from an antihistamine product (containing only diphenhydramine) and squirt it in his mouth. Transport him to the nearest veterinary clinic.
• Use your speaker phone feature to contact the nearest veterinary clinic, informing them of basic info on the injured dog (age, breed) and how far away you are. This gives the clinic time to prep a room for the injured dog.
From Arden Moore, The Pet Health and Safety Coach