Friends Furever: Petplan pet insurance on the social lives of dogs

Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Sep 26 2011

We want to socialize our pets. Experts recommend it. Unsocialized dogs are more likely to have behavioral problems, including aggression to people and other dogs. Besides, how fun is it to watch your pooch frolic around, happily playing with his own kind? Very! It may be at the dog park, or maybe your dog is one of the lucky ones who gets to go to doggie day care. Training classes are also prime socialization time for our dogs. All of these activities are good for our dogs--they teach our dogs to feel comfortable around each other and other people, and dogs learn how to interact with each other in an acceptable way.

Unfortunately, social dogs are also at an increased risk for communicable disease. It makes sense, right? If your dog is hanging out with a bunch of other dogs, he is more likely to contract disease than the pooch who lives secluded from canine companions.

Several diseases can be easily spread in social situations, such as:

  • Canine distemper
  • Canine influenza
  • Parvovirus
  • Kennel cough
  • Rabies

In addition, intestinal parasites can be easily transmitted in confined areas like dog parks. Parasites like hookworms, roundworms and whipworms eggs are deposited in the environment in the feces of infected dogs. Other dogs become infected through ingestion (accidental or otherwise) of contaminated soil.

Just like with the human race, dogs don’t always get along. Bites and other injuries sustained from dog fights are obviously a risk posed to social dogs. A dog fight can happen anywhere, between any dogs, even if they’ve played well together before. Pay close attention to your dog and his friends in social situations. Often reading uncomfortable body language can nip dog fights in the bud.

I don’t mean to scare you off from allowing your dog to be social. Social dogs are happy dogs! Just be sure to take proper precautions prior to letting your dog run free with his friends. Don’t allow your dog to socialize with dogs that appear unwell and don’t take your dog out and about if he is feeling under the weather. Make sure his vaccinations are up to date and that his heartworm prevention is also given monthly. This will help ensure that the contagious diseases mentioned above are not transmitted.

As always, make sure your dog has proper identification, including a microchip.

Now go out there and have fun!