View Full Version : Dog park warning

19th September 2006, 05:20 PM
Hi there,
In my forever quest to have a happy, well socialized, pup I was taking Riley to local dog parks in my area. He loves it and has a great time playing and socializing with all the doggies. (He plays on the "small dog" side but always goes to the fence to meet all the "big dogs" too- such a social butterfly!) Anyway i thought this would be a good thing since he is an only dog and doesn't have any doggies friends at home to play with.
Well 2 days ago he developed a cough. Everything else is normal, he just coughs occasionally. At first i thought it was something he snuffled up since he is such a Hoover, trying to eat everything in sight. But it was bothering me by Sunday night. Yesterday morning we went to the vet and she told me that this is happening to many dogs that have been to 2 of the dog parks i took Riley to! :yikes He has been vaccinated against Bordetella, but there are apparently many strains and you can't vaccinate against all of them. It could be that or something else. So for now we are doing 10 days of antibiotics and he has to remain away from other dogs and places they may have been until the cough goes away and he is off the antibiotics. If anything changes, I must contact the vet during this time.
I feel terrible! :( Here i thought that i was giving him this great place to play and be a dog and unfortunately I have exposed him to something nasty that will now force him to be isolated. :( And that's the best scenario, provided this isn't something much worse.

So i guess this is a warning to those out there who might take their pups to dog parks. You just never know who is taking good care of their dogs and whether they are vaccinated at all or even downright sick. There is no way to tell, there isn't a screening process or anything. Just be careful where you take your doggie and who he might be around. You don't want to end up like me. I'm hoping Riley will be all better within 10 days, it's always hard when your fur-baby is sick. I'm hoping for the best. :xfngr:

19th September 2006, 05:43 PM
Good Luck Laura! :xfngr:

I ran across a sick puppy over the weekend just walking with Lucky (carrying him, since he's just 13 weeks). I guess sick dogs can be anywhere and we do need to be careful especially in places frequented by lots of dogs and particularly dogs that we don't know that well, whose owners might not always get them the care they need or clean up after them properly.

I'm glad you took Riley to the vet right away and I hope he feels all better soon. :flwr:

matties mum
19th September 2006, 07:04 PM
I hope he is better soon Aileen

19th September 2006, 10:45 PM
{{{{{{{{Riley}}}}}}}} hope he gets better soon :( Poor little man :(

When Maxx was a pup he'd had all his shots but ended up in the Vets on a drip for two days and was extremely poorly for another two weeks due to someone elses dog :(

We used to walk in an area heavily used by other dog walkers and obviously someone had taken a dog there who had some awful illness. The Vet had to treat around 20 dogs with the same illness and a couple died :( He had to ask the council to shut the area off and get it sprayed with a special disinfectant.

Ever since then I have been very careful where I take my dogs...

20th September 2006, 12:10 AM
You sound like you are beating yourself up and that's not really fair. You did a good thing - you got him his shots and tried to socialize him. Some irresponsible owner is at fault - not you. I hope everything goes well - don't forget - you are a good mom!!! :flwr:

Cathy Moon
20th September 2006, 12:31 AM
Hope he gets well soon - I went through that too with Geordie as a puppy, and he recovered. Please try not to blame yourself. :flwr:

Cathy T
20th September 2006, 02:56 AM
Hope he gets well soon. You didn't do anything wrong. There's a reason there are dog parks...so we can socialize our dogs. However...I rarely take mine anymore because our dog park is sooo smelly. In the summer it really reeks like pee pee and in the winter it can be very muddy. We do still go on occasion but it's not an every day thing like it used to be. We are going to a Cavalier gathering next Saturday, in October our club is hosting a Cavalier fun day and then in December we have our Christmas party. I try to take the dogs to all of these events. We also do a lot of walking. Not so great for socializing with other dogs but they enjoy as much as I do. Is there a local Cavalier club you can join? I've met so many fun Cavalier people this way and try to get together with them whenever we can.

20th September 2006, 03:22 AM
Thank you everyone for your kind thoughts and words. I was feeling like a bad momma. :( So far Riley is doing pretty well and behaving normally except the cough. Hopefully he will be back to his normal self soon.

20th September 2006, 06:11 AM
Laura, how upsetting! I'm so glad Riley seems to have a mild case of whatever it is.

Maybe you should post the name of the dog park so that anyone in your area who might read this thread would know to avoid those places.

I also think it would be a good idea for someone, possibly you, to post a sign on the gate to the park, alerting people that there is an epidemic of kennel cough at that park.

The bordatella vaccine, as you said, doesn't protect agaisnt all causes of kennel cough, and also, it's only effective for a relatively short time, not a whole year--how long it's effective with any particular dog is not known,, but on average i've read that the range of effectiveness is probably 6 to 9 months, yet vets usually just vaccinate yearly for everything, including things that need more frequent and less frequent boosters or vaccinations.

So, it may not even be that there was an irresponsible owner--it may just be that the bacterium was introduced into the area by a dog who picked it up while out walking with the owner, sniffing the pee left behind by some other dog who carried the bacterium.

The good thing about kennel cough is that most cases are fairly mild and will go away on their own in a fairly short time, but in vulnerable dogs, including puppies, they can cause serious disease and rarely death, and it's good that you caught it early and got medication, although it's entirely possible that Riley would've had a mild case and gotten well even without treatment.

It's like with kids, they go to school and you know they are going to get the flu, because there is a flu vaccine but it doesn't prevent all strains of the flu, and kids will come down with the flu. Most kids will not have a life threatening illness, and will get well after a week or two, though sometimes antibiotics are needed for associated ear or sinus or throat infections. But the point is that it doesn't mean any parents have been neglectful. It's just the price of kids being out in the world. You could prevent a kid from getting sick as much by keeping them home and away from other children, but you would not want to pay this price to avoid illness, even though some children can develop a serious illness or even die from the flu.

Probably the best parents can do, for kids or for dogs, is to feed them a healthy diet, treat them lovingly, and get them lots of exercise, so that they will be healthy and strong and mentally fit, and hopefully will be most likely to have mild diseases because of having a strong immune system. It's likely that dogs are exposed to such gerns routinely and either because of immunization, or good health, or both, their body resists infection.

I walk Zack for 45 minutes every night in the neighborhood. It scares me that i can't insure that he won't be exposed to contagious diseases when he sniffs around during our walk. I take him to a dog park a few times per week, and more than that when i am able in terms of my schedule. In terms of his health, i think the exercise he gets at the park is very important. Other than the park, he doesn't have the chance to run and play and stretch his muscles, and he also gets such happiness from the experience. So i would have to have a very serious reason to avoid the dog park. Where i live, the dog park is very clean, the owners are very responsible and very watchful over their dogs, the people who go there value the park a lot and treat it accordingly, they take care of it, and the city takes care of it too. I think that the risk of exposure to things like bordatella is greater during our walks in the neighborhood than at the park, because the people who take the time to go to the park are probably more conscientious than those who just walk in the neighborhood, or who let their dogs run loose in the neighborhood.

Still, there's always a risk of kennel cough because the vaccine has such time limited effectivenss, and so many strains are not immunized against. It can't be eradicated from the environment.

Because most cases are mild and of limited duration, i think the risk of this kind of illness, in Zack's case, needs to be weighed against the health cost of not having opportunities to run and jump and play with other dogs, so that's how i related to your post and thinking about the risks you point out, that any of us who take our dogs on outings where other dogs go, face. I think of this all the time. I always cringe when we are out walking and i notice him having his nose into something that i fear could be infectious. :?

After hearing a couple of positive reports on a couple of dog health mail lists i'm on, i got some of this stuff and have it in my dog medicine cabinet. I don't know if it will help and i hope i never need to try it out, i just have some, just in case.


I would consult with my semi-holistic vet if giving this.

thank goodness so far Riley seems to be having a strong immune response to the bacteria, no doubt because you've given him great care and he has had lots of exercise and good food, and is strong and robust. He sure does look healthy in his picture, in the avatar. I sure hope he continues to have a mild condition. This is very scary for a mom!

20th September 2006, 09:43 PM
Hi Laura,
I am glad to hear Riley is better. Don't feel like a bad Mom, these things happen. After all in daycare children pass around germs! Social contact is important also for our pets. My little Murphy is very stand-offish with other dogs, and I wish I had tied harder to socialize her as a pup. :sl*p:

21st September 2006, 02:02 PM
Get better soon Riley, and just remember that some dogs don't have mums who look after them, make sure they have their injections, etc. and take them to the vet if they are not well...... big hugs.

Cathy Moon
21st September 2006, 05:26 PM
Hi Laura,
I am glad to hear Riley is better. Don't feel like a bad Mom, these things happen. After all in daycare children pass around germs! Social contact is important also for our pets. My little Murphy is very stand-offish with other dogs, and I wish I had tied harder to socialize her as a pup. :sl*p:
Judi, I have the same thing with Geordie - could not socialize him properly when he was a pup due to his having Bordetella! While he may not be the best in some social situations now, he is an excellent agility dog - everyone loves to watch him go!!! :D

21st September 2006, 10:37 PM
I used to work at a doggie daycare. Sometimes an illness would sweep through or an injury would occur. I think most dogs were far better off there even with the risk than they would be at home all day alone while the owners were at work! Most of the dogs loved coming to play all day with the other dogs and got a lot of mental and physical stimulation.