By Ashley Brock
They’re like an army, quick and agile, feeding off their enemies, slowly bringing them down. Like an annoying pinch, that no matter how many times you smack them away, they come back for more. To me, there’s nothing more annoying than bugs buzzing around your face. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be bit by them and not be able to get them away. It seems a sled dog kennel is like a buffet to hungry bugs. The prevention of fly and mosquito bites should be a top priority in any kennel. These black flies not only cause trouble in the hot months but also during the winter. Flies that constantly bite a dog’s ear(s) overtime without thorough cleaning and prevention can deter any hair growth back over the dog’s ear(s). Without fur to protect Fido’s ear, he may get frostbite in the winter!
During the summer months you have a lot of time on your hands, and you can find out what pet repellents work best for you. I’ve found that these products work well for Thunder Ridge Kennel and many other sled dog kennels: SWAT (a pink cream used for horses as well), Fly’s OFF (a spray and or cream that also protects dogs from mosquitoes), and Udderly sMOOth (helps with healing and dried skin on the ears or wounds). I’ve heard of Vaseline being used to cake on ears which would help prevent the flies biting. Udderly sMOOth feels soothing for dogs that have been severely attacked by flies and does not put them in a frenzy like SWAT.
It’s very important to get that black, dark gunk off of the ears before caking on SWAT or Udderly sMOOth. When I face a serious case of ear bites I clean the ear with peroxide, use a paper towel, not a cotton ball to clean the ears. Cotton balls like to get stuck on the crud the flies have built up, and it doesn’t feel pleasant for the dog. After you moisten the ear with a cleaner, wipe the crust away until the ear is nice and smooth and rub the Udderly sMOOth cream on. The dogs usually like this part and lean into my hands for a good massage. If a dog(s)’s ear(s) are bad I’d do this twice a day. Hair comes back quickly and with regular protection from the flies, should be back to normal in a week or even a few days. You can find these pesticides listed above at a local Feed and Supply Store and/or a Wal Mart.
Dog yard cleanliness is also a good habit to have when you want to help prevent fly and mosquitoes from hanging around the dogs. Regular poop scooping is a main concern; once or twice a day at the least should be very efficient. Poop pits should be a fair distance away from the dogs as well. Some people like to leave things unfinished and might leave a bucket out, I’d strongly suggest making sure all poop buckets are tipped over so that no water can accumulate in them and so that any stinky residue doesn’t attract unwanted visitors. A good way to make sure you don’t forget things is make a “clean sweep” through the yard to make sure all garbage and unused items are removed from the dog yard. That helps me out a lot, considering I have a gold fish memory span! As with any pesticide be careful, follow directions, and monitor your dog(s) for side effects. Just be sensible!
About the Author:
Ashley Brock is an eighteen year old musher from Kentucky who owns six of her sled dogs known as “The Pack Shack.” After high school she decided to follow her dog sledding dream and landed a job as a dog handler for Richard MacAuley, who owns Thunder Ridge Kennel. They are located near West Branch, Michigan and welcome anyone to visit for a kennel tour. Just call ahead! If you’re interested in contacting the Pack Shack you can email Ashley at email@example.com or call her cell # 989-284-5116 if you’d like to visit Thunder Ridge.
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