Most Common Medical Conditions Associated with a Visit to a Dog Park and Tips to Keep Your Pooch Dog Park Safe

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Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) policyholders spent more than $8.6 million in 2011 on medical conditions associated with a visit to the dog park.

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As summer approaches and the weather heats up, pet owners are more likely to frequent dog parks for a fun outdoor escape where their furry four-legged friends can play and socialize. In fact, more pet owners are utilizing dog parks than ever before. With a 34% increase over the past five years, dog parks are the fastest-growing segment of city parks in the U.S., according to a study by the non-profit Trust for Public Land. As dog park visits increase, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, reminds dog owners about the importance of safety when visiting their favorite dog park. In 2011, VPI policyholders spent more than $8.6 million on medical conditions that are commonly associated with a visit to the dog park. VPI recently sorted its database of more than 420,000 canines to determine common dog park-related medical conditions in 2011. Below are the results:

Common Dog Park-Related Medical Conditions            

  •     Sprains and Soft Tissue Injuries
  •     Lacerations and Bite Wounds
  •     Kennel Cough/Upper Respiratory Infection
  •     Insect Bites
  •     Head Trauma
  •     Hyperthermia or Heat Stroke
  •     Parasites
  •     Parvovirus        

Each of the conditions listed above can make for a costly trip to the dog park for pet parents. The most expensive medical condition on the list, hyperthermia or heat stroke, cost an average of $584 per pet, while insect bites, the least expensive condition on the list, cost an average of $141 per pet. The most common condition on the list, sprains and soft tissue injuries, cost an average of $213 per pet.
“Pets are treated by veterinarians more frequently during the summer months due to their increased exposure to the outdoors,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “The majority of medical conditions that occur at a dog park can be avoided by taking necessary precautions, most notably by keeping a close eye on your dog at all times.”
Before visiting, it is essential for pet owners to understand that dog parks have their rules, just like any other community. Below are a few simple, but important tips for ensuring a fun and safe trip to the dog park:

  •     Obey all posted rules and regulations
  •     Pay attention to your dog at all times
  •     Don’t bring a puppy younger than four months old
  •     Make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations and has a valid license
  •     Keep a collar on your dog
  •     On very warm days, avoid the dog park during peak temperature hours, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  •     Look for signs of overheating; including profuse and rapid panting, a bright red tongue, thick drooling saliva and lack of coordination. If this occurs, take your dog to a veterinarian immediately.

About Veterinary Pet Insurance
With more than 485,000 pets insured nationwide, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency is the No. 1 veterinarian-recommended pet health insurance company and is a member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies. Providing pet owners with peace of mind since 1982, the company is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers and an advocate of pet health education. VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Optional CareGuard® coverage is available for routine care. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. More than 2,700 companies nationwide offer VPI Pet Insurance as an employee benefit. Policies are underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and in all other states by National Casualty Company, an A+15 rated company in Madison, Wisconsin. Pet owners can find VPI Pet Insurance on Facebook or follow @VPI on Twitter. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit

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Adam Fell
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