In a dog run, sanitation can keep a pet in sound health, whereas the lack of it may be responsible for its death.
Runs for pets of every kind are made of wire, concrete, sand, soil, gravel, grass, or of various combinations of these materials. Wire runs elevated from the ground permit all excrement to drop out of the cage and can be cleaned and hosed readily. Kennel dogs kept in these accommodations are relatively free of parasites. Dogs kept on rough concrete suffer the most from parasites since concrete is a splendid incuba-tor. Highly polished concrete kept clean is successful but, being slippery, is not an ideal surface for dogs.
The grass is also objectionable. It is impossible to do even a halfway successful job of removing stools where grass grows. Worm eggs stick to the leaves as they grow, and dogs may eat the leaves and become infested or reinfested. Even when the grass is started in a run, it soon dies out, leaving bare topsoil which then becomes muddy.
Washed builder’s sand makes an excellent run floor. It costs little, is easily removed and discarded, and is easily replaced. It shakes off a dog’s feet even when wet. In addition, it doesn’t track into the kennels much as soil with clay in it does.
Sanitation, of course, consists of removing stools and replacing the run material. Proper stool removal requires that not only the stool itself but also the layer of sand under it be lifted out with a shovel. If rain has washed some of the outside surfaces of stool off, any worm eggs may be carried down a fraction of an inch into the surface, since these eggs are much smaller than the pores between even the finest kinds of soil granules. A little soil or sand should always be hoed up with the stool to be certain that all contamination is removed.
In cleaning a dog ruin, do not rake all the stools into a pile and then shovel them up together. When a stool is even partially pulverized by raking or sweeping, its parts, including worm eggs, are scattered and washed into the soil, which soon becomes thoroughly contaminated. Worm eggs that have become embryonated may resist the elements for years, waiting to be consumed by dogs. When the hookworm eggs hatch and the larvae have reached the infective stage, they move upward from fairly deep in the soil with capillarity. They will be found close to the surface of the soil, even somewhat above the surface if they can find a little stem or stalk to climb.
Too much care cannot be exerted in gathering stools. Stools cannot be gathered efficiently from cinders, gravel, or grass. They cannot be removed from rough concrete without leaving eggs in the pores. Only by burning or daily scrubbing can rough concrete be freed of parasite eggs or larvae. Some kennel owners use flame-throwing oil burners which heat the soil surface sufficiently to kill worm eggs and hookworm larvae, but such methods are, of course, impractical for the owner of one dog.
It is difficult to clean any kind of dog run in winter. The problem is not as serious as it might be, however, since worm eggs do not incubate in cold weather, nor do fleas develop. How is this problem managed in kennels that run arc full winter and summer? All spring and summer the sand runs are cleaned with a hoe and shovel. A summer’s cleaning removes at least two inches and sometimes four from the run’s surface. In the fall this is replaced so that the surface is an inch above the surrounding ground. Since the sand will pack down an inch, six inches of sand should be added if four are gone. If a dog has infested a run with eggs or parasites, deworm the dog, shovel off the top two inches of sand, and fill the run with fresh sand.
In cold climates during the winter little run covering can be removed, except on balmy days when the surface may melt enough to enable shoveling. When snow covers the run the owner does the best he or she can, which usually isn’t satisfactory even from the standpoint of appearance. As soon as the surface has thawed in the spring, the top two inches should be removed and replaced wills fresh sand. In a dog run the stools are generally deposited within a few square yards. It is easy to dig away this soil and replace it with sand. But done merely turn it over for a depth of a few inches and think that the whole problem has been solved. Dogs dig holes, and when they do they will scratch old buried worm eggs to the surface. Even the necessary removal of bits of the earth with the stools will in time dig away enough soil to reach the eggs again. Whipworm eggs have been found to live for eight years in the ground.
Few disinfectants will kill worm eggs. Roundwormeggs can stand even carbolic acid. But hookworms cars be destroyed by a very strong salt solution poured over the surface of the runs until it stands in pools. It has also been found that a percent solution of household lye applied in the same manner will destroy hookworm larvae. Neither method works very well on a slope. In addition, dogs must be kept off the lye until after a hard rain.
A more efficient method than either of these is the use of borax(sodium borate) made into a strong solution two pounds per gallon)and poured over the run’s surface at the rate of two gallons per hundred square feet. Borax may be procured from kennel supply companies and wholesale drug distributors. It does have the disadvantage of killing all vegetation not only where it’s applied but many feet around that area.
If a dog is left outside from spring on, it will be healthier than if kept indoors. It will have a better coat, shed less, and be in less danger of being overfed. A majority of hunters believe that making house pets of their dogs ruins them for the sport.
Scientific studies on acclimatizing dogs show that they should not be exposed to sudden changes in temperature. A dog that might die of exposure when taken suddenly from warns to cold can stand much lower temperatures if it is introduced to them gradually. The reason is that cold stimulates the growth of the coat, which in time becomes much thicker and so provides better protection. When dogs from the south are brought north, their coats are so much heavier in their second winter in the north that they look like different dogs. A dog that has become accustomed to cold can endure a great deal.
Northern outdoor dogs often prefer to be out in the snow when they might sleep inside a comfortable doghouse.
Every fall outdoor kennels need to be prepared for the winter. There should be no cracks for the wind to blow through, and the doors should have a blanket or other substantial material hung over them. A single dog’s body heat will keep a good kennel at 6o° F on a night when the outside temperature is 15° F. These burlap front doors do not always stay in place, however, since dogs seem to pull them off. Because of this habit, our dogs have spent nights with temperatures below zero curled up on straw beds open to the wind. As far as we could see, they showed no ill effects from the cold. Many dogs prefer sleeping curled up in the snow on bitterly cold nights even when they can sleep inside in what would seem to be far greater comfort.
Disinfectants must are chosen with care. Dogs are quite resistant to most of the ordinary forms, whereas cats and foxes cannot tolerate phenol derivatives.
Odorless deodorizers are excellent and can be purchased at reasonable prices. “Phenol coefficient” on a label may not mean a phenol product. It simply compares a product with phenol in its germ-killing ability. Some of the odorless deodorizers do have high phenol ratings. Some pet owners like the odor of pine oil; others prefer phenols, which often simply outsell the odor to be removed. Good soap-and-water cleansing is usually adequate around pets, and if there is an odor left after scrubbing, it is a safe assumption that the area is not clean. Disinfectants that give off chlorine are good but are also bleaches and must be used judiciously on that account.
Dogs allowed to run loose are least infested with intestinal parasites, except for the rabbit form of tapeworm. (Country and suburban dogskit and cat rabbits and thus become infested.) Dogs on small runs or short chains have the most intestinal parasites.
A fenced-in yard is perhaps the best enclosure as far as safety and convenience are concerned; if the area is sufficiently large the parasite problem is minimal. It need not necessarily be a great and expensive project to fence a large area unless large, agile dogs are involved, in which case the six-foot height required may be a problem. For a five-foot fence, steel posts can be driven into the ground with a sledgehammer and the fencing wire to the posts. A similar fence using chainlink fencing with pipes set in concrete accomplishes the same result but at many times the cost.
A tight wire stretched from the back door to a tree sonic distance away and eight feet off the ground is a preferred device for many owners. One end of a chain slides along the wire and the other is attached to the dog’s collar. A word of caution is appropriate here. The end of the chain should, when hanging from the wire, extend about afoot from the ground. A long chain might entangle the dog’s legs. An outdoor doghouse should not be palatial but rather should be small enough for the dog’s body heat to warm the area in cold weather. It should be constructed to permit ventilation in hot weather. A piece of carpeting attached as a flap to the top of the entrance helps to keep flying insects out as well as to keep heat in during cold spells. Most dogs have a few intestinal parasites off and on and they are equipped to live with them. When a dog with a few worms is confined to a small area that is not or cannot be properly cleaned the dog’s chances of reinfestation are greater. It may still thrive with a moderate number of parasites but eventually, the surface will be so contaminated that the dog may develop an overwhelming number which, untreated, can kill it.
The dog on a chain defecates, then ruins around dragging the chain through the stool, spreading it over so wide an area that it is usually impossible to pick up. Dogs hitched to overhead wires have a better chance to remain parasite-free because they generally drop their stools at one end of the wire and spend most of their time away from the dirty sections of their runs.
Long, narrow runs are preferable to square runs with the same number of square feet. The dog usually defecates at one end of a long run, generally at the end farthest from the house. But if that is the end where the dog first sees you, it will spend most of its time in daylight hours there watching for you and thus remain in the filth. If possible, the arrangement of the run should be such that this is avoided. If enclosures are built, the wire needs to be of sufficient strength that dogs cannot chew through it, and it should be of a mesh that is difficult to climb. The wire should be buried at least eight inches in the ground a foot is even better.
Rats should not be allowed to remain as kennel parasites any more than insects should be permitted to infest the kennel inhabitants. It is generally easy to eradicate them. Rodenticides, nonpoisonous to pets other than rodents, will keep rats at a minimum. When rats are known to exist on the premises, put out a small bowl of dog food and let them eat it. Do this every night until the rats are bold enough to eat it all and then you know how much they will take. When you have succeeded in making them feel at home, mix the rodenticide with the food and leave it for them as usual. As a rule, four meals will eradicate the rats and no more will be seen for a month or more.
Some of the rat poisons are extremely effective but dangerous to pets. If they are used, they must be covered so there can be no possible chance that the pets can dig them out or uncover boards or boxes to get them. With these poisons, the dead or dying rodent is also toxic to dogs.
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