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Dog Bites: Don’t Underestimate This Serious Injury

Posted March 10, 2015 in Dog Diseases & Conditions A-Z

Two dogs playing together

“Why don’t you let your dog loose so he can play with the other dogs?”

It was a postcard perfect day for a romp at the local dog park. Gopher was enviously eyeing his companion canines running freely inside the fenced-in dog park. His guardian, Todd, had always been a little hesitant to let Gopher off-lead with strange dogs in the park.

“I think we’ll skip it this time. I don’t know all those dogs.” Todd replied with an aw-shucks smile and nod to Gopher.

“Come on, it’ll be good for your dog. Mine has been in there for almost an hour having a blast. Unless maybe your dog is one of those that bites?” The stranger said this with a trace of condescension and a heaping dose of dare.

“Sure. Why not?” Todd unclipped Gopher and opened the gate. “Go get ‘em, boy!” With that, Gopher charged off.

The rules of dog parks
Rule number one of dog parks: Never, ever allow your dog to interact with strange dogs in an uncontrolled setting. In other words, letting your pooch run free with dogs you don’t know is a bad idea. It’s not your dog you should be worried about; it’s all the others.

At first Gopher seemed to be making friends. He was a decent-sized dog, a Lab and Beagle mix, who’d never met an animal or person he didn’t instantly like. Gopher was displaying all the appropriate, “Let’s play! I’m a friend!” gestures and Todd began to relax. That is, until a cocky Cocker spaniel sauntered toward Gopher.

Rule number two of dog parks: You can’t judge a threat by its size. A pint-sized poodle can do significant damage to another dog or person.

Even though Gopher had a good twenty pounds on the Cocker, he clearly wasn’t in charge. The Cocker sniffed Gopher a couple of times, and, in a flash, snapped Gopher three times along the neck and shoulder. Gopher tumbled to the ground, and, before he could recover, the Cocker was gone. Todd covered the hundred or so yards in record time to find his best buddy panting, shaking and whimpering in fear. Todd looked Gopher over and didn’t see any obvious bleeding or open wounds. As he led Gopher out of the park, he heard the stranger remark, “Guess some dogs just aren’t cut out for the playground.”   

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Ernie has more than 20 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a well-known veterinarian, media personality and author. He is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.