Dogs' Social Lives and Disease Risks - Tips for Canine and Human Safety

Whether it's the dog park, doggie day care, boarding, competitions or training classes, mingling dogs with varied or unknown health histories can present health problems for dogs as well as their owners. The very reason you take your dog to a dog gathering – social mixing with other dogs – is the same thing that can put them at risk. Diseases can be spread through direct contact between dogs, shared bowls and equipment, contaminated water, stool, insects and other methods. People who visit these areas and interact with the dogs may also become infected with zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that can be spread from animals to people. In addition, any gathering that puts people and dogs together introduces the risk of dog bites.

As always, your veterinarian is your best source for animal health information. If your dog is showing signs of illness, consult your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. If you feel you have been exposed or made ill by any of the conditions listed below, consult a physician.

This information isn't intended to scare dog owners away from participating in and enjoying social events involving dogs; rather, it is intended to inform you of the risks and some common sense measures that can decrease the disease risks for you and your dog(s).