Educating Kennel Visitors on Biosecurity
Biosecurity involves following procedures designed to protect animals from harmful, disease-causing viruses and bacteria. Keeping your kennel clean and free of pathogens helps babies stay alive!
Why Worry About Biosecurity?
Good biosecurity often prevents common diseases like parvovirus. Recently, I helped a breeder with a parvo outbreak that happened after a family looking for a puppy asked to see the moms with the babies. The breeder asked the potential new owners to observe quietly, so as not to stress the moms or pups, and let them in the birthing area. You know how it is with kids and puppies; soon they were holding the babies, making the new moms anxious and threatening the pups' fragile immune systems. Four days later, the breeder had her first parvo case. While the puppy was saved, the breeder spent $800 on IV fluids and care at the local veterinary hospital. By day seven, a second litter broke with parvo, and they ended up burying all eight puppies from that litter at just six weeks old.
Around this time, the breeder found out that her recent visitors had just lost a puppy to parvo and were looking for a replacement. Canine parvovirus, a highly resistant pathogen, can live in materials like soil or clothing for a very long time. Had the breeder known those people had lost a puppy to parvo, she wouldn't have allowed them to see her pups.
Unfortunately, these incidents happen too often. Know the importance of protecting your puppies from potentially fatal infectious agents. Most people are unfamiliar with biosecurity practices and population medicine, so reminding them of healthy procedures and limiting access to outside visitors is essential. Neonates lack a fully developed immune system and are highly susceptible to these diseases. If you limit the access, you prevent the disease from entering and will send healthy, disease-free puppies to their next forever home.
Handling Biosecurity Issues
I find animal lovers looking to adopt a puppy understand limiting access when the goal is protecting your puppies. Most of us have cameras on our moms or have pictures to show potential owners how the moms care for their babies. Once pups reach eight weeks of age and their vaccines are effective, we can allow new owners to meet them. Limiting access to the whelping area is still important, so introduce pups to new people in another area. Even if all your pups are vaccinated, litters born months from now could be compromised by pathogens that enter your kennel today.
Inform Your Visitors
Post signs designating biosecurity areas on your property. I find most people will be respectful if they know the rules. If someone ignores the signs, be persistent and educate them on the importance of biosecurity. Most people don't want to endanger puppies.
The True Cost
A disease outbreak in the kennel is expensive to treat, but the cost doesn't stop there. Losing a whole litter breaks your heart, especially when you stayed up all night with Mom as she gave birth. You feel like you let Mom down! Get the message out that you limit access because you love your puppies, not because you don't want them seen. Lastly, don't hesitate to ask someone who refuses to follow your biosecurity protocols to leave your property. Biosecurity is the basis of disease control in population medicine, so do it like your puppies' lives depend on it – because they do!
If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.
Don Bramlage, DVM, Former Director of Veterinary Services at Revival Animal Health
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.