Dogs can be a critical part of a farm's workforce and daily operations. They provide protection and assistance with livestock movement, as well as much-needed companionship. Since dogs can be crucial to keeping a farm running, they are an investment that needs to be protected and properly cared for.
Being outdoors, farm dogs are exposed to a number of risks. One major risk to farm dogs is worms and parasites. A few of the most common are as follows:
- Heartworm- transferred through mosquitoes
- Tapeworm- from ingesting infected fleas
- Hookworm- from contact with contaminated soil
- Roundworm- accidentally swallowing roundworm eggs from the environment
- Rabies - a virus commonly caused by bites from infected animals
- Campylobacter- through contaminated food, water or stool
Consult a veterinarian about appropriate vaccination and deworming plans. Vaccinations, once initially administered, should be boostered annually. For other pests, such as fleas, ticks, flies and other insects, suitable protection can be collars, sprays or shampoos.
In the summer, serious problems that farm dogs can face are dehydration and heat stroke. Heat stroke occurs when a dog's body temperature rises unnaturally high. Darker-colored dogs with thick coats are more prone to heat stroke. Symptoms include lethargy or dizziness, decreased urination, refusal to eat, sunken eyes and dry or dark red gums.
To prevent heat stroke and dehydration, farm dogs need unrestricted access to clean, fresh water and lots of cool shade. Wet dog food can also provide extra hydration in the summer. If a dog is exhibiting symptoms of heat stroke, it needs to be cooled down immediately by removing it from environmental heat, bringing it to an air conditioned setting and placing the animal in front of a fan.
Overheated dogs can also be immersed in cool water (not ice cold) for a few minutes and cold packs can be placed on the dog's groin and paw pads. A veterinarian should be called immediately if the dog does not cool down within 30 minutes.
In the winter, hypothermia is the biggest risk to outdoor farm dogs. Extreme cold can cause a dog's body temperature to drop very low. Symptoms can be violent shivering, slow pulse and trouble breathing, lethargy and muscle stiffness. Many common farm breeds can handle cold weather well, but in the interest of the dog's safety, preventative measures should be taken, including:
- Using a water-resistant coat for the dog, as well as consider waterproof, protective booties for the dog's paws
- Making sure the dog has a warm, draft-free, covered shelter
- Making sure that unfrozen water is available to the dog
Because dogs are typically working animals they can be at greater risk for health concerns or accidents. Farm dog owners may want to consider pet insurance to protect the investment in their pet.
Farm dogs can be great companions as well as an essential part in the workings of a farm, however they do need to be properly cared for and protected. As outdoor pets, dogs can encounter issues such as worms and parasites, as well as seasonal problems such as dehydration and heat stroke or hypothermia.
Consider Investing in Pet Insurance
Looking for more ways to keep your farm dog happy and healthy? Consider investing in a pet insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance.1 Get your free quote today.