When you put many dogs together in a fairly confined space, the chance for the transmission of diseases gets multiplied. Veterinary medicine is estimated to be about three decades behind in infection control efforts when compared to human medicine. On top of that, a lot of diseases can be transmitted to people as well. However, a lot of the possible risks can be managed through some simple measures.
Vaccines are mostly sufficient protection against the spread of diseases, but many other threats to canine health are not preventable in this manner and require additional measures. The experts at Ohio State University have come up with these recommendations and was published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
These are intended to be tools for dog owners and those involved in canine care. The new infectious disease guidelines are not intended for animal shelters and rescues, that have other factors to consider and for which there are existing established recommendations.
- Organizers of group events should avoid overcrowding of dogs.
- Dogs with possible signs of infection should not mingle with a group.
- People who interact with groups of dogs, such as handlers, staff and veterinary staff, should frequently wash their hands or use sanitizers.
- Surfaces of the enclosure and items should be regularly disinfected and it’s best to avoid sharing of items including bowls, leashes, and toys.
- Rodents, bugs, and wildlife should be kept out of areas where dogs are held, and dogs should be kept out of areas prone to fleas, ticks and other disease carrying creatures.
- Care should be exercised with puppies and dogs with weak immune systems. Any benefit of socialization should always be weighed against the risk of infection.
- Dogs should always be on schedule with vaccinations, especially those against distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus, parainfluenza, Bordetella and rabies. All these are highly contagious diseases that can lead to severe complications and death.
- Group settings, either on or off-site should always have access to a veterinarian who can help with disease prevention guidelines.
- Following this advice could mean frequent usage of hand sanitizer when checking dogs.
- Doggy daycare operators would need to assign dogs to smaller play groups so that a possible spread of disease can be contained.
- Parks and recreation department works would need to eliminate standing water and keep the grass mowed short in a dog park.
It needs to be kept in mind that what works in one setting might not necessarily be as effective or even practical in another. Those who wish to use these are expected to modify the measures to suit their needs.
Some of the above measures involve more of a culture change and require the involvement of everyone from dog owners to group organizers to larger organizations. But it goes without saying that people who actually care about dogs are really invested in them and would do what they can to protect their canine companions.
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