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The Dangers and Health Risks of Dog Parks


Dog parks are touted as a great place for dogs to socialize, play and get some much-needed exercise. But the chaotic environment that’s often found in dog parks can also lead to aggression and fights. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for dogs to become injured or even killed after a visit to the dog park. There are also other health risks that may lead to an expensive trip to the vet.

The Dangers of Dog Parks – Fights and Injuries

Dog parks do have their advantages, and many owners will bring their furry companions to these parks without ever encountering an issue. However, there are some very real dangers that need to be considered. 

According to Strom & Associates, the most dangerous aspects of dog parks include: 

  • Dog fights that cause human and/or animal injuries
  • Fatal injuries to small dogs caused by large dogs
  • Injuries to children

One of the biggest issues with dog parks is lack of education and experience on the owner’s part. Many dog owners will hire walkers who bring dogs to local parks for socialization and exercise – not knowing that the dogs are aggressive or uncomfortable around strange dogs. Many dog owners aren’t aware that their dogs are uncomfortable around other dogs until they go to a dog park.

Dogs that don’t enjoy the company of other dogs should not be going to dog parks. Timid dogs should also avoid them, as they can easily cross the threshold from fear to aggression.

Fights may also break out because the park doesn’t have separate areas for large and small dogs. In addition to bullying by large dogs, small dogs may also become injured or even killed after a run-in with a large dog. 

It’s not uncommon for large and small dogs to get into scuffles, and the small dog is usually the one to walk away with injuries.

Health Risks for Canines

Along with injuries and fatalities, there are also health risks associated with dog park visits.

Dog parks are usually free and open to the public, which means that you have no idea what kind of dogs are playing there and what types of diseases or illnesses they may be carrying. Not all dog owners are responsible, which means that there are sure to be unvaccinated and sick dogs playing in the park at some point.

Because so many dogs congregate in these parks, illness is easily spread, including canine influenza and kennel cough. The kennel cough vaccination can give some protection, but there are many different strains out there. 

Illness can also be transmitted through shared water bowls, and dogs can pick up intestinal parasites if they come in contact with feces of infected dogs.