Human and Pet Hazards at the Dog Park

November 29, 2010

On innumerable occasions in my clinical practice, I have witnessed our canine companions incurring health problems stemming from dog parks. In doing regular emergency work (along with my house call acupuncture practice), I treat dog bites, acute onset lameness, blunt trauma, digestive issues from eating dirt or organism-contaminated water, and other ailments affecting companion animals. I recently found myself in the patient role when I sought treatment for an injury sustained at the hands of (actually, the head of) a familiar dog park attendee.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, while visiting my sister in Delaware, I incurred my own dog park trauma: a (slightly) broken nose.
Photo of Close Up of My Nasal Trauma
Spencer, my sister’s Labrador Retriever, was leading a rambunctious game of chase with Cardiff (my dog) in hot pursuit. As I leaned over to remove the leash from my sister’s other (smaller) dog, Riley, I failed to notice the Spencer led doggy caravan sprinting in my direction. I turned to my right, then felt and heard a crunch as Spencer’s thick skull connected with my nose.

Photo of Spencer Holds His Toy While Riley Takes Flight

The reality of the incident quickly set in when my eyes began to profusely water and blood poured out of my nose. Additionally, the collision caused my sunglasses to cut the skin on the bridge of my nose, further contributing to my face’s bloody mess.

Being unable to ascertain the full extent of my trauma, we immediately pursued emergency care at Hockessin Walk-In Medical Care. Having participated in radiographs (xrays) on my animal patients many times in my years as a technician and veterinarian, I found comfort in the amusing irony of my situation; prostrate on the xray table.

Photo of Radiographic Evidence of Fracture to Tip of My Nasal Bone The good news came when Dr. Vincent Shaller informed me that my septum lacked deviation and the majority of my nasal bone was intact. The bad news was that I had a small, non-displaced fracture to the tip of my nasal bone. Actually, the bad news was rather good, considering the likelihood the fracture would heal without surgical intervention.

I certainly never would have predicted that this kind trauma would have happened to me. I am thankful (being that this incident incurred on Thanksgiving eve) that nothing injurious happened to Cardiff, as his history of Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) adds complications to the management of many common conditions, including trauma (see Thanksgiving 2010- I Am So Thankful for the Health of My Dog).
Photo of Cardiff Nicely Requests Us to Share Our Thanksgiving Dinner

I now feel compelled to warn others to employ caution in situations where dogs are given the opportunity to revert to their instinctual behaviors. Such behaviors can potentially lead to unforeseen trauma to pets or people (i.e. dog parks, etc), so keep your personal or pet’s medical insurance card and your wallet readily accessible.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jana Rade November 29, 2010 at 9:15 PM

Ouch! Such things can definitely happen. I had my share of bruises from such incidents. As granny used to say: “It’s only fun until somebody loses and eye.” 😉

Patrick Mahaney November 30, 2010 at 7:31 AM

Thanks for your comment and sharing your experience from the dog park. I have seen people get knocked over (like bowling pins) and injured when overenthusiastic dogs crash into them. I hope your injuries were not severe!
Dr. PM

Jana Rade November 30, 2010 at 12:06 PM

Yeah, knocked over like a bowling pin – got that few times too! And not even by my dog! 🙂 I was lucky and never got any serious injury. I know people who ended up with knee braces and knee surgeries though.

Kelley Denz December 3, 2010 at 9:55 PM

Ouch, I’m happy to hear it wasn’t any “worst” than it was. Sounds to me like it was pretty bad. The “dog park” I go to is about 10 miles of park so the dogs are spread out and I’ve never seen or had anything like that happen to me.

Jana I”m happy to hear you have never been seriously injured either.

Jana Rade December 4, 2010 at 12:22 AM

Kelley, wow, you got an awesome park! That surely helps. Though I got knocked down in the woods too, seems that the dogs just love to play near the humans! LOL

I got off lucky but I do know people who got hurt from the impact or following fall.

Patrick Mahaney December 4, 2010 at 8:26 AM

Thank you for your comments Jana and Kelly! Glad to hear you guys have not incurred any bloodshed at the dog park, woods, or wherever else you may take your beloved pooch (-es). My sister’s dog, Spencer, has issued a formal apology. I have decided to settle out of court for my emotional and physical trauma (kidding!).

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