AKC Senior Breeder Relations Field Representative Stacy Mason discusses spring cleaning tips and tells what to check out in your kennels to repair winter damage and get ready for warmer temperatures.
It’s about that time of year to roll up our sleeves and get some work done. But what kind of spring cleaning should responsible breeders be doing to keep dogs safe and healthy? Where should you start? How do you know what needs to be spruced up?
Starting Spring Cleaning
First, get a notebook, write down the date, and record your findings. As you look around, ask yourself the following questions:
If someone took a picture of my property, home, or kennel where my dogs live, would I be comfortable with what they saw?
If not, can I change anything to make it safer or healthier for my dogs and puppies?
Take a Photograph
A few small changes or repairs might save you expenses and/or a preventable trip to the veterinarian. I encourage breeders to take a photograph of their home, kennel, or area where their dogs stay. Don’t look at this picture for three days. On day three, look at the picture you took on the largest screen you have, or print it out so you can see the details. Then, really look at the picture as if you were looking at someone else’s kennel.
Examine Everything Your Dogs Contact
Check wood, metal, plastic, concrete, or other substances that your dogs might come into contact with while in their primary enclosure. Know that any untreated wood, chewed plastic, or other surfaces that are not maintained can allow dangerous and often deadly bacteria, viruses (like parvo), protozoan, parasites, or other organisms to get into the pores of the material. This can lead to unintentional harm, parasite infestation, or even the death of the animals in your care.
Are all housing areas structurally sound? Is there any rusted metal or peeling or scratched paint? Are there any loose wires, jagged edges, or sharp points that might injure an animal? Are there any chewed, worn, or soiled areas? Don’t forget to make sure that water buckets, feeders, and food pans are in good shape.
Outside Exercise Areas
Are the areas outside your four walls safe? Don’t forget to look at runs, play yards, dog houses, and outlying areas. Look specifically for holes or low areas. With spring rains come mudholes, dirty dogs, and giardia. Does the concrete need to be re-sealed? Are there any cracks or voids to be filled? These can harbor unwanted or dangerous guests. Have any trash or debris accumulated outside during the winter? This can include pieces of old toys or yard waste.
As puppies grow, we need to remember to check the generally accepted space requirement per dog per enclosure. Have you added a dog, or do you have puppies that have grown over the winter? Do you need to check your city, state, or federal guidelines to make sure you are providing enough space for each of your animals?
Have you checked the ammonia levels in your kennel, home, or dog room? We can go “nose blind” and need to pay close attention to this level as it can contribute to nasal, respiratory, vision and other issues in our dogs and our own health. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends that human exposure levels to ammonia concentration in the air should be no more than 25 ppm for no longer than 8 hours.
Do you need to replace any light fixtures or add more effective lighting? Would a fresh coat of paint help with retroflection and brighten up an otherwise dark area in the kennel? Remember, good lighting makes your job easier and may make your animals even healthier.
Check the dates on all unused medications, de-wormers, vaccinations, salves, and ointments. You do not want to have anything expired in the kennel. If you find something that is expired, be sure to properly dispose of it.
Now that you have a list, it is time to get to work. Roll up your sleeves and have fun with your dogs as you get to work and start your spring cleaning!