Summer has arrived, and most of the country is experiencing hot, muggy weather. I hope these ideas will help protect your home, kennel, and dogs from summer hazards.
- Check daily for ticks. The reports are in, and ticks are bad this year! Be careful and make sure you visually and physical examine your dogs daily for these creepy crawling blood suckers. Be sure and check behind your dog’s front “leg pits,” between toes, inside the ears, and under their tail (https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/ticks-on-dogs/), as these potentially deadly creatures can really hide well. If you plan on breeding your dog, make sure your flea and tick prevention tablets and topical oils are labeled for use in breeding animals.
For treating your kennels and outside areas, Mosquito and Gnat Barrier from Tractor Supply, which also kills fleas and ticks, is very effective and easy to use. It attaches to the end of a hose, dries quickly, and works up to four weeks!
- Beware of Blue-Green Algae. It is the time of year for people and their pets to frequent lakes, ponds and creeks. While it is great to spend time outdoors, remember that blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) is VERY toxic and can kill your dog even if they only take just one or two drinks of water. Always bring plenty of fresh clean drinking water along for yourself and your dogs. Never let dogs drink from standing non-moving water, especially if the water is warm or has a blue-green surface that looks like pea soup or spilled green paint, as it could be very harmful to them and you.
- Check all air conditioners and fans. Make sure they are clean, in good working order, and properly wired. Clean and change the filters often.
- Provide lots of shade and plenty of clean fresh water. Shade sails are tension-mounted fabric shades modeled after sailing ships and provide outdoor shade. They are a great way to add that extra flare to your facility without the extra price tag.
- Misting systems are a great way to cool the air at least 25 degrees. The Misty Mate system can twist around a fixed object.
- Heat and moisture normally mean one thing – hot spots! Be sure to keep a close eye on your dogs and examine them often to check for any early signs of a hot spot. You can normally feel a scab-covered bump a day or two prior to a full-blown hot spot breaking out. Try to keep moist areas clean and dry.
- Geothermal heating and air conditioning have become the new rage. Many kennels are using the earth’s interior to reduce or raise the ambient air temperature in their kennels. The concept is very simple and cost-effective. Pictured is a unique wind funnel to make that system even better. (image from powermag.com). If the outside temperature is 112 degrees Fahrenheit, it will be reduced to 59 to 65 degrees by the time the outside air goes through the Geothermal system and gets into the building. This greatly reduces the volume of air that will need to be cooled as it enters your facility. Be sure to be mindful of condensation and humidity. You will need a dry well or a sump pump to keep your tubes from filling with water. Be aware of the humidity levels in your facility as your dogs can feel the effects of a high heat index.
I hope these ideas and tips help make your kennel safer and more comfortable for your canine companions.
Stacy Mason is an AKC Senior Breeder Field Representative.