CARING FOR YOUR SAINT BERNARD
In this section you’ll find a multitude of information on caring for a Saint Bernard from a variety of longtime Saint owners and breeders who are eager to share their experiences with you.
Wet and Rainy Climates
The rain in Spain seems to not stay in the plains..…rather it’s in the Northwest!
We live in Auburn, a suburb south of Seattle, Washington, nestled just below Mount Rainier. Our beautiful Northwest coast line is such a lovely and naturally green and mild environment. We have lush green grass and foliage, enormous trees and clean fresh air throughout most of the year. However this is because of the rain! Yes, we get lots of rain but it’s not the drenching storms that occur elsewhere in the States, usually just showers, drizzle, cloudy skies and often a light mist in the air.
Generally Mild Temperate Weather
Saint Bernards however do very well in our cool and mild Puget Sound climate. We seldom get snow except in the mountains, and very rarely does the summer temperature get above the mid’80’s. When it does though, we are also cognizant of the extra attention needed then simply because they’re just not used to the heat. For example; providing more shade, keeping them cool and calm, providing plenty of fresh water, and perhaps occasionally soaking them with the garden hose.
Adequate Cover, Surfaces and Drainage
Owners of Saint Bernards up here are very aware of certain needs to keep the dogs in good health and condition during the wet weather. Proper cover to protect from the elements is essential, as is good drainage. Some fanciers have large runs with 4-5 inches of pea gravel on top of packed sand. Depending on how many Saints, the size of the runs and the Saints’ activity, more gravel is usually added every several years.
Several inches of cedar chips provide good bedding in each dog house. They can be changed regularly, and the old cedar makes for good plant mulch. Besides being a flea deterrent too, cedar helps keep the dogs dry. The dogs do love to romp in the big mud puddles, but the mud dries quickly and then just drops off.
Singing in the Rain!
Our dogs have areas where they can get out of the weather, and yet we can often see them just standing, roaming around in the rain whether it’s sprinkling or a downpour, without a care in the world, almost as if they were enjoying the crisp, fresh air. One of our favorite girls, Annie, would just walk around in circles sometimes, just staring up in the sky, smelling the fresh air, and an occasional bark would be uttered as she seemed to have a story to tell!
Hotspots, Pad Problems and Pesky Fleas
On the rare occasion when we feel the need to actually dry our dogs especially if they are really wet, we’ll towel dry, or use a blower or crate dry them. One of the wonderful things about Saints is that they dry very well on their own. Then there are hot spots, so we are always on the lookout for those, keeping various products on hand. Saints seem to be more prone for these especially during significant weather changes or very humid weather. In these situations we have a special treatment plan that might be needed to help heal these areas more quickly. Depending on the severity we’ll use a chlorohexidine rinse from our vet, wash the area well, giving the dog a bath if necessary. The chlorohexidine rinse is twice a day for at least 2-3 days, has to be rinsed and dried well. We’ll then apply Gold Bond powder, or a gentamycin spray to the spot.
We check their feet frequently too, during and after rainy spells to make sure there’s no fungus starting or matted hair between the toes. For foot issues we have discovered an amazing remedy called BAB. In a large squirt bottle, add one pint jar of common rubbing alcohol and 3 teaspoons of Boric Acid. Pour in enough liquid Betadine to make the solution a nice dark rust color (much like a Vizsla that’s too dark for the standard but perfect for the judges!) The alcohol aids in drying, the Boric Acid helps fight the bacteria and the Betadine disinfects like soap. This solution can help with some ear issues too. We have used this solution in particular on one of our male Saints with chronic pad and ear problems and it has helped immensely.
Another issue in our Puget Sound area is fleas as our winters often don’t get cold enough to freeze or kill the fleas and their eggs. We all stay proactive on this. The best remedy of course is the monthly drops or pills.
Having Fun in the Rain!
Our yard is set up so that dogs have the freedom to play, or get out of the weather by going into our house garage to take a snooze. Even when it is rainy and wet, we Puget Sounders are still active in outdoor events with the dogs – dog shows, carting, weight pulling, camping, parades and events like our Oktoberfest. You name it, our Saints do it!
Sheri Boldt, Washington
Hot and Dry Climates
Water: In a hot dry climate cool plentiful water is a MUST. In the hottest times you may need to refresh the dog water several times a day. Newly refreshed water is often a plaything that can be spread over a large area. As the mouth area of a Saint is one of the largest areas for cooling their whole body, they will swish water around their mouths to cool down even if they are not actually drinking a lot.
Shade: Areas where a Saint spends most of his time MUST have areas of shade. The sun will cause a Saint to overheat quickly when the surrounding temperature is over 80 degrees even with low humidity.
Grooming: There are no special grooming requirements; however, in a hot dry climate Saints don’t keep much of an undercoat so a quick brushing every 2 or 3 days will prevent matting and related hotspots. Some people shave their longhair Saints in hot weather. We never did that and didn’t feel that it was needed. If we had an individual Saint who had coat aggravated problems we would not hesitate to shave him. If you do shave a Saint beware of sunburn.
Shelter: We had an air conditioned kennel that dogs disappeared into during the heat and emerged from at cooler times. Outdoor dogs will need some sort of cooling in their insulated shelter. There is no special size requirement for shelters in hot dry climate. Dogs will prefer cool hard floors. Indoor dogs love tile floors and with the creative use of kiddy gates, parts of the house can become dog domain during the day when they will sleep most of the time anyway. Beware of floors that are too smooth as they can be a problem for young and old Saints.
Exercise: In hot dry weather you will find that your Saints may become more active at night when it is cooler. Many a time we have been awakened at 4am by running, chasing and playing dogs. If it is too hot out for you, your dog won’t be comfortable either. Any strenuous activity with your Saint should be confined to cool hours and be fairly close to home. You don’t want to be able to tell the story about the day you had to carry your Saint home because he was overheated.
Equipment: Large water buckets, tarps for shade, misting systems and standing coolers for outdoor cooling, and old towels for slobber.
Food & Feeding: There are no special requirements for the type of food to feed your Saint. Listen to the recommendation of your Saint’s breeder on food requirements. It is always wise to feed your Saints in the cooler hours.
Medical Issues: The main issues associated with our climate are heat stroke and heat related problems, and Valley Fever, a mold spore caused medical problem. You should become familiar with signs and treatment of these conditions.
Watch out for: “Hot dry climate” tells you what to watch out for – watch out for heat and a lack of water. Heat: Exposed water lines such as pipes and hoses can produce really hot water. Lickits water sources can burn a dog’s mouth. Surfaces can be hot to the touch including asphalt, sand, and even wood and gravel. Dry: Dry country has a lot of vegetation that has sharp stickers. Watch for foxtails and other grass seeds that can puncture and infect feet. Putting your nose into a cactus can be very uncomfortable. Fleas and ticks can be found in our climate so preventatives are recommended.
Jack and Carol Terrio, Arizona
Cold and Freezing Climates
The weather outside……
…… is frightful, but in the dog house it’s delightful! Apologies to Wendy and Carnie Wilson who wrote LET IT SNOW!
Reasonable care should be taken during cold weather for outdoor pets and livestock.
It is my personal opinion that outside dogs are hardier than the indoor variety who only “visit” the outdoors. Rumor has it that I live where it is very cold (Alaska). When my dogs are in a kennel run that is under roof, I build a 4 x 4 foot frame of 2 x 10s screwed together to provide a box that is comfortably filled with shavings of cedar or pine. I have used plain old coarse sawdust with good success. I do not like straw because it holds more moisture and too quickly turns to a dirty powder. My dog houses are not insulated and are large enough for me to sit in with an adult St. Bernard. The dog house needs bedding as described above and uses a generous 2-3 inches in depth. The dog will invariably scoot the bedding aside and allow himself to lie on a bare wooden floor. I re-spread the bedding material every day at feeding time. My dog houses are not draft free, but they are dry and dry is the key to comfort and safety. I do not use carpet because of possible danger of some of it being ingested into the dog’s digestive system. Carpet isn’t digestible! I do increase useable calories about 25% in winter.
My dog houses are built on top of a discarded freight pallet that sits on the ground as a foundation. I use 1/2 inch exterior plywood for the floor, walls and roof. I use 2 x 4s for the frame. My dog houses also have a roof that only slopes in one direction. Because I live on a mountain side, the water is allowed to run off in the direction of my choice. I use metal roofing material that matches my own house!
In cold weather, provide adequate drinking water. Forcing your dog to eat snow is not good enough. If you use an electric device to keep the water bucket ice-free, make sure that the bucket/water does not give your pet an electrical shock.
I do not bathe my dogs in winter except for shows. They are outdoors ALL the time. I find that the long haired variety needs combing at least weekly and I trim long hair off their foot pads as needed. When they get a winter bath for a show, it is done at a commercial dog wash where they also have blow drying.
We have actually had Saints in training for the Iditarod Race, and that was the only time our dogs wore booties! Be dry and be warm.
Glen V. Williams, Alaska
Hot and Humid Climates
Having Saints in the south requires a special brand of determination. I cannot think of an environment more in contrast with the natural settings of this breed than the land of extended summers with our high temperatures and high humidity, but it can be done.
North Florida, in my opinion, is about as south as the breed should go; at least this area has seasons with cooler winters and in truth, the summers are no worse than are experienced in the north, they just last longer here. But many folks manage well in South Florida too with most Saints being kept indoors with air conditioning during the heat of the day.
Good air flow and plenty of shade are keys to the special considerations needed in southern summers to help ease the heat
Good air flow and plenty of shade are keys to the special considerations needed in southern summers to help ease the heat. This can be achieved by providing large fans and even misters for the outside dogs. Air conditioning (which has the added benefit of removing humidity from the air) is available to indoor dogs and some breeders even provide enclosed areas that are cooled for their outside dogs. It is also a good idea to provide kiddies’ pools for your Saints to step into or even lay in for cooling off purposes. Temperatures can be significantly lowered with these methods and you will see the positive results with less panting by the dogs.
My own kennel was an “open air” pole barn with an extended roof overhang to add more shade to each run. We installed a French drain that caught rain runoff and prevented flooding of the grassed runs. We chose to install 1’ square patio stones instead of a poured concrete slab because they allowed us to leave spaces between the stones into which we installed small gravel so the water would not puddle but instead run into the French drain that surrounded the structure. Our runs were as much as 100’ feet long to allow the dogs plenty of room to run and exercise. There was also a gate at the end of each run that allowed them access to an even larger area. We chose to go with large dog houses that would accommodate two Saints and put a heavy layer of cedar shavings in each house. In order to prevent the dogs from lying on the patio stones, we placed two 3’x3’ rubber mats in each run for them to lie upon. These were the type sold in Sam’s for chefs to stand on to ease discomfort from standing long periods of time. It all worked beautifully.
Everyone knows we are the mosquito capital of the free world…
Everyone knows we are the mosquito capital of the free world so we had to be diligent in controlling heartworms. This was accomplished with the use of liquid Ivomec that was squirted into their mouths each month. I preferred the minimal dose of 1/10th of a cc per 40 pounds of body weight and we never had a case of heartworm in any of our dogs. Fleas were managed with regular bathing of the dogs and sprinkling 20-Mule Team Borax into all the areas where fleas are known to hide; mostly shady areas, dog houses and any other places where the dogs spend the most time. Ticks were managed best by our goats when they ate the low brush where the ticks hid. We also had Guinea Fowl for a while but after two raccoon-led massacres, the last two hens decided to vacate the premises.
When they were no longer being shown, it was my experience that heavy-coated long-haired Saints did better when trimmed of furnishings and had a shedding comb used to keep excessive undercoats under control for the summer months. We never cut their body hair or shaved them, but a good trimming did the trick and made them easier to groom. There was decidedly less drooling when they were relieved of the excess hair and I swear they smiled more too.
When left to their own devices, most Saints will remain quiet through the hotter parts of the day
When left to their own devices, most Saints will remain quiet through the hotter parts of the day as well they should. So it is wise to prevent situations that will cause them to get excited when it is hot; cool and calm is the order of the day. We all recognize the need for outdoor activities and exercise for our breed and early morning and/or evening hours are best for these needed activities, like training sessions, but it is best if they are kept short.
Common sense dictates we do whatever we can to keep the dogs’ environment as cool as possible and limit their activities during the heat of the day. One benefit of our climate in the south is that the dogs are not subjected to the extremes in either the heat or cold temperatures experienced in other parts of the country and when managed wisely, few dogs are lost due to heat causes. I think being prepared is the answer.
Donna McPhate, Florida
Tips for the Dog Lover
Tear stain remover: one part Woolite, one part 20-volume peroxide (human hair kind) and mix with two parts water. Suds and let set for 3-4 minutes, rinse and shampoo as normal. You should dab mineral oil in the eyes first to help avoid getting the solution in the eyes.
Hot spot remedy: mix one cup distilled water, one tsp. Calendula flowers extract and half tsp salt, apply to the hot spot, then pat with towel and apply aloe vera gel.
Fleas and ticks: they hate Stash Earl Grey Tea. Tear open a few bags, scatter the tea about on your carpet and vacuum up in a few days. People have noticed that dogs like to roll in the Stash also.
Search flea markets for window panes. Remove the glass, paint and decorate for a ready made frame to display your dog’s photos.
Paint dog bones and paw prints on stepping stones in the kennel area.
Eliminate ear mites: all it takes is a few drops of Wesson corn oil in your dog’s ear. Massage it in and then clean with a cotton ball. Repeat daily for three days. The oil soothes the dog’s skins, smothers the mites and accelerates healing.
Save your back: by using a taller grooming table (like those used for smaller breeds) when training your puppies to stack. You can see them better, take better photos and are still able to stand up straight after all that practice.
Buy cream cheese: when you have to give your dog a pill, slice off a piece of cheese, put the pill on it and fold over. Dogs love cream cheese.
Decorate the kennel yard with those “old” galvanized buckets. Using a nail and hammer, put several drainage holes in the bottom of the bucket. Fill with potting soil and plant your favorite flowers.
A cure for hot spots: Lysol in the gold can is a fungus killer – that is what hot spots are: moist fungus.
Rub a Q-tip around a puppy’s toes when they are still in the whelping box, when they are older and standing on a grooming table. This gets them used to having their feet handled and nail clippers should not be a problem.
Why do dogs dig? They are bored, foraging for food or buried treasure and, it’s fun! The simple fact is that they are dogs, and it’s the “dog” thing to do.
Hint: Use baby diaper wipes to clean the dog’s ears. They are anti-bacterial and do not keep the ears moist, just cleans them.
Look for old wooden boxes with partitions (like those used to hold beverage bottles.) They make great containers for grooming supplies or meds.
Blood: Hydrogen Peroxide will remove blood on both clothing and dog’s fur. Great for after a c-section.
Hitting the bottle: When puppies are feeling the heat of summer, freeze small bottles of water and put them in the pet enclosure. The pups drape themselves over the bottles and seem much relieved by the coolness.
Cedar chips are a great repellent for fleas, ants, mice and ticks. Use some for dog bedding. Place the used ones around rose bushes, they will bloom like crazy.
To remove dandruff in your dog’s coat, pour vinegar into the hair, massage into scalp and let dry for a few minutes. Wash the hair and repeat daily until the dandruff disappears.
Homemade nontoxic disinfectant: Fill empty spray bottle with half cup white vinegar, quarter cup rubbing alcohol, and the remainder with water. Spray the area.
Chewing puppies: they don’t like the smell of oil of cloves, so dab a little onto legs of precious furniture you don’t want chewed.
Never buy over-the-counter medication for your pet without knowing exactly what you are supposed to get, and never medicate your pet without your vet’s guidance.
If your dog has to wear a bandage on a paw and keeps chewing it off, spread some soap on it and he’ll leave it alone.
To get rid of lint/dog hair, add a half cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle.
Dawn dishwashing liquid kills fleas, just add a few drops to your shampoo and suds up well. Be sure to rinse thoroughly. Dawn is great for degreasing dogs too.
Diane Radcliffe, Arizona, (compiled from the 2006 SBCA “Around the Kitchen and Kennel” reference book)
DISCLAIMER – the tips and helpful hints in this column or any elsewhere on this site are not an attempt to practice medicine or provide specific medical advice, and should not be used to make a diagnosis, or to replace or overrule a licensed veterinarian’s judgment and advice.
Training for the Show RIng
Training a Saint Bernard for the show ring starts at an early age just like any other training. The sessions need to be short in the beginning and as the puppy gets a little older then you can lengthen the sessions. These sessions also have to be fun so the puppy doesn’t get bored. Often there are handling classes offered for puppies and dogs of all ages. Check with the local clubs and training facilities. They usually will have successful professional handlers and exhibitors as their instructors. This is a good way to get your puppy socialized as well getting him used to being surrounded by other dogs and distractions while under your control.
Standing still, and squarely
To get your Saint ready for the show ring, teach your dog to stack or stand still and squarely. Some handlers like to “free bait”. To do this, stand in front of your dog with the bait (something like dry broiled liver pieces) so he can see it. Entice him with the bait, and offer praise at the same time to get him looking at the bait and standing still. You can also use a favorite small squeaky toy.
Some handlers like to hand stack their dogs by manually placing all four legs in position. Figure out which way is easiest for you and your dog, and then be consistent in your training. Training a Saint puppy to stack is not as hard as it sounds. If you have a wiggly puppy, it’s best to stack him on blocks or bricks that are elevated off the ground. This teaches the dog to trust where his feet are being placed – if he moves his feet he will become unbalanced. But make sure he’s not afraid, you want to build his confidence. A confident dog is a happy dog and will do better in the show ring.
Never scold, make this fun for him
Be firm but never scold him, you want this to be a positive experience for the puppy as well as for you. To stack him, start with the front. The legs should be straight, under the shoulder blades. Then move to the rear – the rear legs should be vertical from the hock down. Feet (toes) should be facing forward. Talk to him, check his expression, you want him to look happy and alert. His tail should be constantly wagging. It especially should never be turned under, tucked between the back legs. That could mean he’s not happy, not feeling secure. If possible, practice in front of a full length mirror so you can see what the two of you look like to a judge.
Make sure you fit your puppy with the correct choker type collar. You’ll have a variety to choose from but a soft, narrow collar is better than a metal chain type. Make sure it’s on his neck correctly. A rule of thumb is that you should be able to slip two of your fingers loosely under the collar while it’s on him. The leash is equally important. Generally a 4 foot long leash, either nylon or light-weight narrow leather is best. A combination lead and collar called a Martingale is perfect for training puppies. You’ll be using the lead and collar (as well as any bait) to control your Saint as well as to keep his head up, his ears up and alert, making a pleasant picture. You should also have what we call a “slobber cloth” too, in your pocket, to wipe any drool from your Saint’s lips when you have someone going over him especially his mouth and muzzle.
Teaching him to trot correctly
Always practice with your Saint puppy on your left side, adjusting your pace to his. This will take some experimenting. Gaiting is moving your dog so the judge can see the movement and structure of your dog. The correct gait for the show ring is the trot – this is when the right front leg and the left back leg move forward at the same time. If the dog is moving the front leg and corresponding back leg forward at the same time, this is pacing which is incorrect for a Saint Bernard. Start by getting the dog’s attention and take a few steps forward before setting your pace, trot your dog in a straight line, then turn around and go back. Use praise, baby talk and gentle tugs on the lead. Once you return to the same spot, properly stack your dog again. This is the foundation of how your dog will be evaluated in the ring.
Get him used to strangers going over him
Once your puppy is comfortable being stacked for a few moments, get him used to having strangers go over him from head to tail. Get him used to his whole body being handled, stroked. This includes his head, ears, shoulder area, up and down the legs, as well as his feet, chest and back, the groin area including testicles for males, and tail. Everything about him will be checked by the judge. Practice showing his bite, he needs to get used to having you as the handler as well as a judge opening his mouth, lifting the lips away from the teeth. Don’t practice with any bait while working on this.
Entering matches for practice
These are good to enter your puppy in, or even older Saints who need some ring work. Make sure your Saint is current on all his vaccinations and he’s been groomed – this includes ear cleaning, brushing out and toe nail clipping. Many local specialty clubs and all breed clubs as well as some training facilities will offer matches throughout the year. These usually have puppy classes and are an excellent training venue as well as a venue for socializing and getting your Saint used to other animals, dealing with crowds and noises.
Entering a show
Make sure your Saint is trained, groomed and ready for a big show, whether it’s a specialty or an all breed show. Judges have less than two minutes to pay attention to each dog – this is not the time to be lead-training your dog, or getting him used to strangers and noise. You do a great disservice to not only the dog but to the judge too if the dog is not properly trained for the show ring.
There are many rules and regulations for entering dog shows. You’ll want to be on the mailing list for the show superintendents who will send you all the information you need to enter a show. You can find further information by going to the American Kennel Club’s website, www.akc.org And of course a great place to show off your special Saint Bernard is at our annual National Specialty. This is the place to meet other Saint fanciers and exhibitors, attend educational events that help you learn more about your Saint, as well as caring for him, not to mention seeing some of the most beautiful Saint Bernards in the world proudly being showcased by their owners and breeders. I look forward to seeing you there!
Tom Claus, Indiana
Health and First Aid
In this section, you will find useful information regarding the health and well-being of your Saint Bernard. NOTE – if you are seeking medical advice concerning your Saint Bernard, we urge you to first contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. A vet is trained to provide a hands-on evaluation and diagnoses of your dog’s medical condition.
BASIC GROOMING FOR THE BEGINNER
This will be just a basic lesson for those with their first Saint whether an adult or a puppy, not meant to be a complete guide for grooming for the show ring.
Minimum supplies to have on hand include:
- A good pair of straight scissors and curved scissors
- Slicker brush and pin brush
- Mat splitter
- Nail clippers
- Ear cleaner
- Cotton balls
- Whitening shampoo
- Leave-in conditioner spray
Brush thoroughly first
First go through the dog’s coat with the comb to make sure he or she is mat free, and especially on longhairs, checking behind the ears, the rump, the tail, and the toes. You may have to use the mat splitter. Brush the dog thoroughly. Use a gentle ear cleaner and cotton balls to clean out the ears, never dig around with a Q-tip.
Ready to Bathe
Bathing – wet the dog thoroughly first, and then using the whitening shampoo, gently shampoo all the white areas and then the entire dog, head last, keeping the shampoo out of the dog’s eyes. Rinse thoroughly, and then use the conditioner, following the specific instructions on the bottle. Again rinse well, getting down to the skin, and when you think you’re done rinsing, rinse some more! Leaving any shampoo or conditioner on can cause hot spots.
Important to Dry Thoroughly
Towel dry the dog and then use the leave-in conditioner, following the directions. Use a dog blow dryer to completely dry. When completely dry you can now trim the nails, clipping just a little bit at a time to avoid getting too close to the quick. If you do get too close and the nail starts bleeding, dab some Kwik-Stop on the nail and press gently.
You can now brush out again, scissor behind the ears if necessary, trim the hair under the feet, and any long hairs sticking out.
And my best tip to you – start training your Saint as a pup to enjoy his grooming, getting used to the nail clippers, the noise of the blower, and having his ears checked and cleaned regularly. Good luck and have fun!
Bonnie Claus, Indiana
Dog Food Supplements
As a cautionary note, let us begin by saying that one “size” in supplements does not fit all needs and the dog owner should consult his veterinarian prior to using supplements in his Saint Bernard’s food. Having said that, we can mention that vets often have a variety of supplements for sale in their clinics. Most pet owners feed a commercial brand of some kind. Calcium is supplied in these foods at about 1% and it is very important to not disturb that balance.
After nearly fifty years of feeding Saint Bernards, I can share some things that do work. I used to feed a supplement to pregnant bitches that was called PreNatal Theralin. I don’t believe it is still available from Lambert Kay products, but they now have a Theralin VMP puppy tab. The prenatal product was loaded with vitamins and minerals. As you know, puppies are born in a translucent sac. The bitches on Theralin delivered puppies in a much stronger sac than those not fed the supplement.
Cosequin and Dinovite are available without prescription. The former is for joints and the latter is mainly for skin conditions. These products come in a variety of sizes. I have used a product called Dancing Paws, a daily multi vitamin and mineral supplement. It is available on the internet and from Swanson Inc. Their guaranteed analysis says that two wafers contain 0.3% calcium. See calcium warning in first paragraph above.
Standard Process has been in business since 1929. They only sell to health care professionals. MDs and Chiropractors may stock their products and they have a huge selection of items to choose from. A retired veterinarian turned me on to Standard Process and actually helped me establish an account of my own with them. I only ordered Calci Food Powder. It was beef bone processed at low temperatures. The vet asked if I had ever had a puppy go lame and have crooked front leg problems. I had not at that time, but later experienced that problem and the product worked great. I have seen similar products in drug stores.
Bottom line – always check with your vet as well as your breeder about supplementing. And remember, there’s a myriad of opinions out there so do your research to help you find what is best for your Saint at any age.
Glen Williams, Alaska
Cold and Freezing Climates
Our Thoughts on Feeding Saints
Feeding of our Saint Bernards is something that we take very seriously. From the moment the puppies are conceived we take special consideration to the nutrition that the bitch needs to in order to provide proper nutrition to the developing puppies. With this article we would like to focus on feeding from birth to senior ages.
Through many years of trial and error and dog food research, we have taken all that we have learned from other breeders and come up with a dog food regimen that works for us with great success.
When the puppies are born
When our puppies are born we start them off nursing on the mother if possible and we also always supplement. It is very important to monitor what amount of milk the puppies are taking in. Our milk mixture that we use for the puppies is a 50/50 split of Meyenberg evaporated goat milk and bottled water. Meyenberg Evaporated Goat Milk is a concentrate made by removing half of the water from the fresh whole goat milk. It is unsweetened, pasteurized, naturally homogenized, and gluten free. Its superior digestibility makes for quicker and more thorough absorption, which in turn allows improved assimilation of important vitamins and minerals. We only use this brand of goats milk. This product comes in 8 fluid oz. cans. It must be refrigerated after opening and can safely be reheated as needed.
We will continue to allow puppies to nurse on the mother and we also bottle feed our milk mixture. This is to ensure proper amounts are taken in by each puppy and weight is being gained. Newborn puppies are fed every 2 hours the first week. After week one, we start to increase to 3 hours during week 2. Between week 2 and 3, puppies are being fed every 3 hours during the day and increased to every 4 hours overnight.
Ready to wean
When puppies are of weaning age (between 3 and 4 weeks) we start them on a gruel mixture that consists of Pro Plan Sport All Life Stages (chicken and rice) dog food that we presoak in the milk mixture (goats milk/water). This soaked mixture is then warmed and run through a blender or food processor to get a thin creamy mixture. Puppies at this age are eating 4 times a day. We never use “puppy food”; puppy food is designed to promote growth. We feel that a Saint Bernard puppy does not need to be promoted to grow at a fast rate. We prefer the ratios in adult food- 26% protein and 16% fat. % protein and 16% fat helps maintain lean muscle and an ideal body condition. As the puppies mature, this mixture is fed also with just less of the milk mixture added and less presoaking. Eventually by 7 weeks the puppies are only eating the Pro Plan dog food. The kibble will be offered with a small amount of warm water added. The warm water seems to bring out the aroma and flavor and make chewing easier. The kibble and warm water will be continued as puppies mature. From 7 weeks to 4 months puppies are reduced to 3 feelings per day.
After 4 months generally they are fed twice daily. We continue this process all the way through the life stages. We always feed our dogs twice daily and sometimes with the growing puppies they will remain at 3 meals a day as needed.
From weaning to seniors
From the time they are weaned into solid food till the time they leave us as seniors we feed the same dog food. Purina Pro Plan Sport chicken and rice all life stages. As they become geriatric, we will soak food longer so it becomes softer and easier for them to chew and digest.
We feel very strongly about our choice of food and feeding protocol. This is also placed in our contract when a puppy or dog is sold. The new owners must agree to continue with the same dog food and regimen.
We have had great success with this process and have had limited amounts of growing pains, hot spots, skin irritations etc. Our dogs are living healthy lives and to appropriate ages with minimal heath concerns.
Our hope is that everybody will find a dog feeding regimen that works well for them and stick with it. It is far too common to hear of people who switch dog foods constantly and also seem to bounce from processed to raw and/or back to multiple brands of food. We recommend that everyone does their own research and consults with their veterinarian. Through the years we have talked dog food with many breeders and dog fanciers and have found that Purina Pro Plan is widely used with great success across the board.
Jackie Schart and Billy Buell III, California
Understanding Dog Food Labels
Saint Bernards, being a giant breed, come with an inherent concern for proper nutrition. There are many different opinions on what and how to feed – dry, wet, grain free, or raw.
I have been involved in the breed since 1973 – showing and breeding since 1983. The world of dog food has had dramatic changes over that time, some good, some bad. I have relied on feeding commercial dry dog food as do most Saint owners. Since this is what I am familiar with, this article is based on that. I suggest going online to dogfoodadvisor.com as an excellent guide when considering a food. This site gives detailed analysis and reviews for most brands and types. Rather than try to cover all ingredients and supplements in foods, this site explains them well for each food reviewed. Keep in mind when browsing the foods that they are being judged on ingredients alone.
A food given a 5 star rating may have very good ingredients but not be a balance suitable for a Saint (too much protein the most common concern) and it does not take into account where the ingredients are procured and processed. Dog food recalls are not uncommon due to poor quality ingredients or processing. The cheaper the food usually the more corners that have been cut. Also, the more abundant of a supply is needed (for example the big box store brands) the more concern over how to provide that much quantity at a reasonable cost and make a profit – their bottom line. I like to see my dog food come from a company whose sole business is to make quality pet food. I also am concerned when a company seems to be concentrating on advertising and promotions as opposed to using their money to make food.
This article will be divided into three sections.
- PART ONE will be an aid in reading labels when considering a food.
- PART TWO covers feeding of older puppies through old age.
- PART THREE will deal with specific challenges in feeding during times of stress – pregnancy, lactation, and neonatal puppies.
I hope this series on feeding will be of help to the Saint Bernard community. Please consider it as a starting point. Your dog’s health and condition is the deciding factor on the best way to feed.
Reading Labels and Food Options
Commercial Dry Food – Even though the listed ingredients of different brands look the same (chicken, rice, etc), other variables make a food good or bad. First, ingredients are either from constant source, least cost or a combination. A good brand uses constant source to ensure constant good quality. When comparing foods, this is the first question to ask. Dog food comes in 3 grades – store brand, premium and super premium. Store brands being the cheapest and most readily available but not a good choice – especially when feeding a giant breed. The nutrition is iffy and inconsistent at best. The ingredients may not be human grade, or may be from overseas sources where there are regulation and safety concerns. The food may contain meat by-products, preservatives, artificial coloring, etc.
Stick with premium or super premium. Ingredients are listed on the label in the order of quantity (most to least). The percentage amounts listed are the minimum but not necessarily the actual amount. This is another reason to go with a better grade of food as the percentages are more accurate to actual amounts. The first 4 or 5 ingredients are important to take note of as they are the building blocks of the food. The first ingredient should be a meat (chicken, beef, fish, etc.). I prefer meal to whole meat as it is meat concentrate absence the water – hence the weight is based on the actual amount of meat. Lamb meal has a caveat as lamb meal only has to be 51% lamb.
Multiple meat sources are good because it provides a variety of protein sources for the body to utilize. Lamb does not supply as much available energy as other meat sources so a lamb based diet is not adequate for a Saint puppy. A growing pup needs a protein source readily metabolized and both young and older dogs have a lowered ability to manufacture taurine.
There have been studies that seemed to show that lamb based diets lacked sufficient taurine – essential for heart health. When re-examined, lamb has just as much taurine as other meat sources but some of the foods tested had very little lamb. The protein was mostly from plant sources which do not have taurine. I think lamb for an adult Saint is OK if it is a secondary meat source in the food. Rice is a common carbohydrate source in most dry food. Wheat is not a good choice as it is the most likely to trigger allergies, millet is the least likely.
When choosing what treats to feed, beware of those not made in the USA with American ingredients. Quality and processing of the ingredients is suspect from some overseas suppliers.
Wet (canned) Food – Most wet foods are mostly water with very little nutrition. There are some that are more canned meat but these are very expensive, require a large volume fed for a Saint, and usually too rich as the base for his diet. Also, the amount of binders, artificial flavorings, additives, preservatives is worrisome in most brands. A couple tablespoons added to entice a picky eater or just make you feel better should not cause problems.
Raw diet – A choice to consider but one that requires dedication. Drawbacks are expense, convenience and it is a balancing act to insure proper nutrition (especially the calcium/phosphorus ratios). Choosing to feed a growing Saint puppy raw diet can have devastating lifelong effects if the owner is not well informed on how to feed raw.
Grain Free – This is a fairly new option that is still in the formative stage. Usually considered for dogs with allergy issues. The foods are generally low carbohydrate with vegetables taking the place of grains. Some have low meat content (vegetables being used as a source for protein) so do not contain adequate lysine and taurine. An increased incidence in bleeding ulcers have been seen when feeding foods over 40% protein so choose one under 35%. In my opinion, a product to use with caution due to the lack of long term experience feeding the various formulas.
Susan West, Utah
Feeding Older Puppies Through Old Age
Saint puppies grow at an extremely rapid rate. At birth they usually weigh 1 ½ – 2 ½ pounds. By the age of 3 months they weigh around 30 to 40 pounds and will gain between 3 to 5 pounds a week for the next few months. This kind of growth makes proper feeding extremely important. Yes, it is expensive to feed a growing Saint pup, but if a high quality diet is not fed, the outcome can be disastrous.
Look for a premium to super premium grade food. Do not feed a general puppy food. Research has shown feeding puppy food, especially in giant breeds, has a detrimental effect on a puppy’s development by making him grow too quickly. Choose a food that is not too high in protein (no more than 25%). There are now many large breed puppy foods on the market, but large breed is not giant breed (dog food companies consider a large breed puppy to be any one that will be 50 pounds as an adult). Check those protein levels.
Mixing in a little canned food is fine, just a tablespoon or two. Most canned food is mostly water and very low in nutrition so use it only as a mixer. We add warm water to the food before feeding. This makes it more palatable and dog food experts feel feeding a dry food tends to make a dog require more water intake.
Very minimal supplementation is needed if a good quality dog food is used. In fact, more problems are usually caused than avoided by adding this and that (especially calcium and protein). I do suggest that 500-1000 mg of vitamin C be fed daily throughout your dog’s life. This is a water soluble vitamin which makes overdose difficult, and research has shown that it may be beneficial to good bone and muscle development. I also like salmon oil. This will provide all the good Omegas that just make the whole body function better. Puppies do not retain a residual of this product between doses (as adult dogs do) so it is important to give the proper amount on a regular schedule to get the benefits. If you stick with a good quality super premium food that is designed for the special needs of a growing giant breed puppy, not much else should be needed as supplementation.
Your puppy will do well on 3 feedings per day until he is 4 to 6 months old.
Start him out on 1-2 cups per feeding. This will depend on his age. You will know if you are feeding the proper amount for a young pup if he eats most of the food, but leaves a small amount uneaten. Adjust the amount you feed to accomplish this. When they are very young (up to 16 weeks old), we also leave some dry food (about 1 cup) with our pups during the night. Since this is not mixed with canned they will usually only eat this if truly hungry.
Never allow your puppy to become overweight. The ribs should be covered but felt when rubbing your puppy’s sides toward the head. The rib test is one to use throughout the Saint’s life. The majority of growth problems (Panosteitits, OCD, HOD, Dysplasia) can be eliminated or greatly reduced by following a proper feeding and exercise program and by not allowing your dog to become fat.
There will be stages when your growing pup will be eating more per feeding than an adult Saint. Gauge how much you feed by the pups condition – not by the “suggested amount” printed on the bag. Your puppy will go through growth spurts and you may almost double his intake at times. Do the rib test every few days and adjust your feeding accordingly. NEVER feed just prior to or just after exercising. Wait at least one hour. Avoid feeding in the hot part of the day. Gastric torsion (bloat) is a major killer in Saints and feeding multiple meals instead of one large one may help avoid this. The general wisdom was to also feed in elevated feeders but recent research has indicated that feeding this way may not be correct in preventing bloat. Cool water should be available all times but watch that your dog does not drink too much too fast.
ADULT – Once a Saint reaches adulthood – 18 months old for feeding purposes – the major growth concerns have been overcome. He can now be maintained on a good quality dry food following the same basic feeding guidelines. I feed my adult Saints the same food they were on as pups – my preferred adult dry food. Most Saints require between 4 and 8 cups of food per day – depending on activity level, size, and food used. Gas or diarrhea are the common signs for overfeeding or improper digestion. Usually, the better the quality of the food, the less you need to feed and the better the digestion. Divide the feedings into 2 meals. I continue to give 500 mg of vitamin C daily and salmon oil a couple times a week. Follow the same exercise restrictions and feeding when it is cool as with a pup.
OLD AGE – At around 7 years old, I consider my Saints as entering old age. There may not be many outward signs other than some graying of the muzzle but the body is slowing down. As long as they are doing well as they age, I do not change their food or feeding routine. One exception would be if the adult dog was being fed a diet high in lamb, a change to a nonlamb food would be advisable (older dogs have a diminished ability to manufacture their own taurine). Supplementing with salmon oil is very good for the older dog as it helps with regulation of a number of body functions and also acts as an anti-inflammatory.
Activity for the older dog will slow so be vigilant on preventing your Saint from becoming overweight. Also be aware if they seem to be losing weight – a possible sign of illness. Check their teeth often for tarter or breakage. Foods formulated for older dogs may or may not be something to consider. Usually the protein levels are lower – thought to be easier for the aging liver to process. But some experts think more protein is needed since the liver is not functioning as well. Unless there is a specific problem that needs to be addressed through nutrition, stick with the food that has worked for your dog throughout his life. Older Saints can be painful due to arthritis and this can affect them wanting to eat. If your old guy seems uncomfortable, check into the many options for pain control. Go the natural, more conservative route to start. Monitor water intake as excessive drinking can be a sign of illness.
Susan West, Utah
Feeding in Special Cases
Before even considering your Saint, she should be on a high quality, balanced diet. That having been said, she has been bred and you are now hoping for the pitter-patter of puppy paws.
The gestation period for a dog is 63 days (9 weeks). During the first 4 weeks, the pups are not putting much demand on the mom. Her normal food amount and feeding schedule should be maintained.
Studies have shown that the rate of fetal reabsorption is higher in bitches overfed during this first part of pregnancy. From 4 weeks on (depending on litter size), the bitch will usually start to gain weight. Continue to feed the same high quality food she is used to – adjusting the amount week to week as needed to keep her in good body condition but not fat (see rib test).
It may also be necessary to divide her usual 2 meals a day into 3 or 4 as the pups take up more room. The most weight gain is usually seen during the 6th to 8th week. There is still no need to put her on a different food unless she is carrying a large litter and it is difficult for her to get enough calories in. She will probably be eating 10 to 50 percent more by her due date. In the old days, it was thought the best plan was to start feeding mom a puppy food. Back then with limited options for food this was about the only plan to up nutrition.
We now know the calcium in puppy food is much too high for a pregnant bitch and runs the real risk of causing eclampsia. I usually begin to transition into a“hotter” food the beginning of week 6 or 7. This will be a premium/super premium adult food with no more than 30% protein. This will be the food the bitch will be on while nursing. I am all for pampering the expectant mother, so small additions of cooked egg, liver, hamburger, etc. should not cause problems. Rely on the balanced nutrition of her chosen food and not the ‘this and that’ you decide she might need.
The nursing mom is under huge nutritional stress. Have her on an adult food with slightly higher protein (28 to 30 % percent). Many times these foods will be labeled for dogs that are active, under stress, pregnant, lactating, etc. Watch for diarrhea as this can lead to dehydration especially while nursing. Cooked hamburger and rice (half and half) is a good first step to help with diarrhea.
During the first few days, the new mom may not want to eat much. This is not uncommon and tempting her with some favorite treats may help. Sometimes even hand feeding is appreciated. A small addition of dry cat food by hand in the food usually works for me to entice mom. As a last resort, ask your vet about a Vitamin B injection to help stimulate her appetite. Mother Nature will side with the newborn pups over the needs of mom so you must be very aware of her condition. As the pups grow, the demand on mom will go from requiring one-half times her normal ration to possibly 3 plus times.
Overfeeding a nursing Saint is not too much of a concern if she has a normal sized litter. If she seems hungry – feed her. Act quickly if she begins to look less than robust. Adjust her portions and number of feedings to maintain her weight and condition. There is no need for a bitch to lose weight during lactation. It is up to the owner to monitor her and adjust her diet and feedings as needed.
Remember, the new mom will probably not want to leave her pups, so feeding her in the whelping room may be necessary for a few weeks. It may also turn out her normal schedule no longer works, possibly requiring free feeding. Since the nursery will be warm, fresh cool water should also be in the room at all times. I always add Puppy Gold to her diet (per label directions). This product is used mainly for nursing and weaning of pups but is ideal for maintaining good milk production and body condition in the bitch.
NEONATAL PUPPIES AND WEANING
It is the lucky breeder who has a brood bitch that has plenty of milk and is a good mom. In that case, your involvement in feeding is minimal. Due to the size difference of the mom and pups, I do not leave them together in the whelping box unsupervised. This not only prevents injury to a pup but allows me to insure each pup is nursing adequately. It is important that each pup nurse within the first 24 hours after birth. This is when the colostrum is present. Colostrom is different from normal milk in that it contains antibodies which are transferred to the pups that protect them from many diseases.
I begin a nursing schedule of every 3 to 4 hours. In a large litter, dividing up the pups works well to make sure they all nurse adequately – turning the mom over during feedings to reach all nipples. Nipples not nursed on will either dry up or become engorged – leading to mastitis. Guard against diarrhea in pups as they dehydrate quickly. It is uncommon for mom’s milk to be the problem and most likely the whelping box is too warm – keep the puppies area under 80 degrees. The time between feedings can be extended as the pups age. If a pup is quiet, warm, exhibiting active sleep, and has a round belly, they are probably well fed.
Don’t be too quick to make a mother nurse. She usually knows when the time is right. Also, don’t be bound to a length of time for each pup to nurse. As the pups age, moms naturally lengthen the intervals between nursings (wanting in the whelping box) and shorten the time (a couple minutes at times). If the pups are thriving – mom knows best. If all is not going well and supplemental feeding is required, I bottle feed using Puppy Gold. Bottle feeding is more time consuming than tube feeding but I feel the benefits both physical and psychological for the pup outweigh my extra time. Puppy Gold is a very elemental canine milk replacement, a product most like mom. Most canine milk replacements contain a lot of sugar. Goat’s milk or lamb replacement formula is used successfully and is more economical but its nutrition levels are balanced for herbivores, not carnivores. Hint: if Puppy Gold is to be used for bottle feeding, use it from the first as pups started on one of the sweeter replacements or goat/lamb milk are hard to switch over. Some pups do not take to the bottle but it is best to alternate all pups between the bottle and nursing on mom if possible.
I begin the weaning process at about 4 weeks old. I make the puppy mush using warm water and the dry dog food the pups will be eating after weaning, mixed with Puppy Gold (per directions). I feed 4 meals per day, alternating between mush for one feeding, nursing the next. Keep an eye on the mush eaters to make sure each is eating well. A slow learner may need a little extra mom time. When the weaning process begins, have water and dry food available for the pups at all times. Weaning is complete in a couple weeks but I allow mom to nurse as she wants – this makes the whole family happy and helps mom dry up more comfortably.
Susan West, Utah
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR SAINT HAS NO HEARTBEAT
Do NOT begin chest compressions UNTIL you’ve secured an airway and started rescue breathing.
- Gently lay your Saint Bernard on its right side on a firm surface. The heart is located in the lower half of the chest on the left side, just behind the elbow of the front left leg. Place one hand underneath the Saint Bernard’s chest for support and place the other hand over the heart.
- Large Saint Bernard dog: press down gently on your dog’s heart about one inch for medium-sized dogs; press harder for larger animals and with less force for smaller animals.
- To massage the hearts of puppies and newborns, cradle your hand around the animal’s chest so your thumb is on the left side of the chest and your fingers are on the right side of the chest, and compress the chest by squeezing it between your thumb and fingers.
- Press down 80-120 times per minute for larger animals and 100-150 times per minute for smaller ones.
- Don’t perform rescue breathing and chest compressions at the same exact time; alternate the chest compressions with the rescue breaths, or work as a team with another person so one person performs chest compressions for 4-5 seconds and stops long enough to allow the other person to give one rescue breath.
- Continue until you can hear a heartbeat and your Saint Bernard is breathing regularly, or you have arrived at the veterinary clinic and they can take over the resuscitation attempts.
Please remember that your Saint Bernard’s likelihood of surviving with resuscitation is very low. However, in an emergency it may give your dog its only chance.
*Always remember that any first aid administered to your Saint Bernard should be followed by immediate veterinary care. First aid care is not a substitute for veterinary care, but it may save your Saint Bernard’s life until it receives veterinary treatment.
Dog Shows, Viruses and Parasites
If you’re like me, you do not consider dog shows somewhere your dogs can get deathly ill. I expect all show dogs to be fully vaccinated before attending a show. Well, let’s be honest, we have all heard the 3 month old Vizsla owner saying “I’m getting her used to the show atmosphere”. Little does this owner know about the many viruses and diseases her precious baby can take home. Aside from the external and internal parasites (i.e fleas, tapeworms, etc.), our babies can catch a list of other diseases! This article was written to educate owners on a few of the more popular contagious illnesses.
Bordetella: Many kennels or facilities that have a large traffic of dogs have dealt with kennel cough. It is that annoying dry cough our dogs can catch from being boarded and exposed to a lot of other dogs, or simply going to a show. Unfortunately, it can take 3-5 days to produce any symptoms. Many cases are easily treated with proper antibiotics. By the time one dog gets over it, the cough spreads to the others. Luckily, with proper treatment and sanitizing routines, you can control it. The bordetella vaccine can protect your pet from many forms of kennel cough. I administer only the intranasal to my dogs because it takes 2 days to build immunity as oppose to the 42 days the injectable version takes!
Canine Parvovirus: We are all aware of the very contagious parvovirus that is caught by an unvaccinated dog coming into contact with contaminated feces. The symptoms include anorexia, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and lethargy. A dog can show symptoms as late as 3-5 days after begin exposed to the virus. Since the 60’s, parvo has mutated 3 times. In 2008, a new strain, known as the CPV2c, was discovered. It is believed that the current DHPP vaccine protects against even the most recent strain. The best way to protect your puppies, is to vaccinate once between 6-8 weeks old, booster between 9-12 weeks, again between 13-15 weeks, and finally between 16-18 weeks. The most important vaccine is the last. The puppy must be at least 16 weeks old to be protected for 1 year. Diagnostic tests include a swab of the anus and a Snap test that shows results within 10 minutes.
Canine Distemper: This multi-systemic viral disease can be transmitted through contact with eliminations (feces and urine) and mucoid secretions (nasal discharge, saliva, etc.). The disease attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and on occasion, nervous systems within 9 days of being infected. Most cases are treated by clinical signs and lymphopenia (very low white blood cells). Unfortunately, specific diagnostic testing may take weeks to complete, by which time the disease has taken the dog’s life, or the dog has recovered. Properly vaccinated puppies are completely protected from this disease. Parvo and Distemper titers have proven that if properly vaccinated, a dog can be protected 3-5 years between vaccines.
Parainfluenza Virus: This airborne respiratory virus can be easily transmitted from dog to dog. It’s symptoms include, coughing, hacking, and sometimes fever, which may take up to 7 days to appear. Parainfluenza is commonly mistaken for the less serious kennel cough. Pneumonia resulting from parainfluenza is not uncommon if not treated properly. Like many other respiratory viruses, the best diagnostic test is a swab of the throat. The test can take up to a week to return, but treatment of proper antibiotics should be started immediately in attempts to control it. The best way to protect your pet, is to use an intranasal bordetella vaccine with parainfluenza protection.
Canine Influenza: Also known as H3N8, the dog flu is a relatively new virus being identified in January 2004 during an outbreak in racing greyhounds. Like the parainfluenza, the flu can appear to be a dry cough. This cough can persist for 10 to 21 days despite therapy. Other symptoms can include nasal discharge and low grade fever. More severe cases involve pneumonia, including a high fever and increased respiratory rate and effort. Diagnostic testing include throat swabs and, again, may take a week for results. Dogs that are suspected to have the flu should begin treatment and quarantined. As of 2009, Merck Animal Health created Nobivac; the Canine Flu vaccine. This vaccine is not considered a “core vaccine” and duration for protection has not yet been well defined.
Canine Adenovirus 1 and 2: These two versions are rare and with proper vaccination can be prevented. Type 1 causes hepatitis. It affects the liver sometimes causing it to hemorrhage. An infected dog will shed the virus through it’s eliminations. Symptoms include fever, lethargy, abdominal pain, anorexia, and vomiting.
Type 2 is related to the hepatitis virus and causes kennel cough. This type spread through bodily fluids and is airborne. Vaccinating against both types protects your pet from CAV.
Parasites: There are many great products to control, kill and even repel fleas. Some are non-pesticidal and others are simply flea sterilizers. We have always used the product Sentinel (with the exception of the several months it was taken off the market). This monthly pill prevents heart worm disease, purges the intestines of roundworms and hookworms AND sterilizes fleas resulting in a control of fleas. Currently, there are many products that combine the convenience of flea control with heart worm preventative. It is a “Do-All” pill given once a month. Because Saint Bernards are giant breeds, it is easy to disregard heart worm or flea preventative. The truth is, that if you ever have an infected dog, it is detrimental to your kennel or even fatal. A flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day. Meaning, a couple of fleas can become an infestation very quickly. When ingested, these fleas and larvae will become tapeworms in the body. Along with tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms are fairly common in any dog.
Keeping your kennel wormed with a broad spectrum dewormer (which is found in many of heart worm preventatives), can save time and money for treatment. On a side note, there is only one heart worm preventative product on the market that offers Drontal (the only tapeworm purging drug). Iverhart Max does contain the proper dose of Drontal to rid your pet of tapeworms every month. Heart worm disease is fatal and is caused by a simple mosquito bite. An infected mosquito can cause worms to grow in a dog’s heart and their larvae to live in their blood, resulting in congestive heart failure and death. There are even products that are sold in bulk to do the minimum of protecting your dogs from heart worms. Invest in a good product- it could be a life saver.
Properly sanitizing your kennel and home is crucial for the management, control, prevention and treatment. Like many veterinary clinics, I use Rocal D Plus. I dilute it by following the instructions on the bottle, put it in a spray bottle, spray kennels, crates, grooming tables, floors, doors, handles, walls….anywhere your pets have been, let dry, rinse/wipe with a damp cloth/mop, and follow with diluted bleach (1:10). Always wear gloves while disinfecting your home/kennel and do this at least twice a month. Another great product is Trifectant; I do not use simply due to its odor.
The purpose of this article is not to frighten you from dog shows, but instead to explain the importance of vaccinating your pets. There are many beliefs that vaccines cause seizures, cancer, and so many other problems. This is not supported by research and should be considered false. Please vaccinate your dogs appropriately for the safety of other pets and our precious babies.
Recommended preventative care protocol:
7 weeks old– DHPP (Distemper/Hepatitis/Parvo/Parainfluenza), deworm, start heart worm preventive with a flea sterilizer (We love Sentinel) a few days after deworming.
10 weeks old– DHPP and deworm
12 weeks old– Heart worm preventative
13 weeks old– DHPP, Bordetella and H3N8
16 weeks old– DHPP, Bordetella and H3N8
Monthly preventative- Heart worm and flea control
Every 6 months– Deworm with Drontal if your heart worm preventative does not include it.
Annual vaccines- Bordetella and H3N8
To purchase Rocal D Plus, visit:
Disclaimer: this article is not an attempt to replace proper veterinary advice. Always consult with your own vet regarding any parasite/vaccine protocol.
Flower Jacobs, Texas
Treating Heatstroke on a Saint Bernard
- Never leave your Saint Bernard in the car on warm days. The temperature inside a car can rise very quickly to dangerous levels, even on milder days. Saint Bernards can succumb to heatstroke very easily and must be treated very quickly to give them the best chance of survival.
- If you cannot immediately get your Saint Bernard to a veterinarian, move it to a shaded area and out of direct sunlight.
- Place a cool or cold, wet towel around its neck and head (do not cover your dog’s eyes, nose or mouth).
- Remove the towel, wring it out, and rewet it and rewrap it every few minutes as you cool the Saint Bernard.
- Pour water or use a hose to keep water running over the animal’s body (especially the abdomen and between the hind legs), and use your hands to massage its legs and sweep the water away as it absorbs the body heat. Use ice or ice packs between your Saints legs when transporting.
- Transport the pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Always remember to provide your Saint or any pet for that matter with plenty of shade and fresh cool water when left unattended even for a short time in your yard.
Handling an Injured Saint Bernard
If your Saint Bernard is injured, it could be in pain and is also most likely scared and confused. You need to be careful to avoid getting hurt, bitten or scratched possibly by accident.
Never assume that even the gentlest Saint will not bite or scratch if injured. Pain and fear can make animals unpredictable or even dangerous.
Don’t attempt to hug an injured dog, and always keep your face away from its mouth. Although this may be your first impulse to comfort your dog, it might only scare the animal more or cause them more pain.
Perform any examination slowly and gently. Stop if your Saint Bernard becomes more agitated.
Call your veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic before you move your Saint Bernard so they can be ready for you when you arrive.
If necessary, and if your dog is not vomiting, place a muzzle on the pet to reduce the chances you’ll be bitten.
Adult Saint Bernards may be muzzled with towels, stockings or gauze rolls if you don’t have standard dog muzzles on hand.
Young Saints and puppies may be wrapped in a towel to restrain them, but make sure your pet is not wrapped in the towel too tightly and its nose is uncovered so it can breathe. NEVER muzzle your pet if it is vomiting.
If possible, try to stabilize injuries before moving an injured Saint by splinting or bandaging them.
While transporting your injured Saint Bernard, keep it confined in a small area to reduce the risk of additional injury. Cages/Crates work well, (but make sure your dog has enough air). For extra large dogs, you can use a board, a kid’s toboggan/sled, door, throw rug, blanket or something similar to act as a stretcher.
You should always keep your Saint Bernard’s medical records in a safe, easily accessible place. Bring these with you when you take your dog for emergency treatment to a vet.
Is My Saint in Shock
HOW TO IDENTITY IF YOUR SAINT BERNARD IS IN SHOCK AND WHAT TO DO
Symptoms: weak pulse, shallow breathing, nervousness, dazed eyes. Usually follows severe injury or extreme fright.
- Keep the dog restrained, warm and quiet.
- If he or she is unconscious, keep head level with rest of body.
- Transport the dog immediately to a veterinarian.
What to do if your Saint is not breathing:
- Stay calm.
- If possible, have another person call the veterinarian while you help dog.
- Check to see if he or she is unconscious.
- Open your dog’s airway by gently grasping its tongue and pulling it forward (out of the mouth) until it is flat. Check the Saint’s throat to see if there are any foreign objects blocking the airway.
- Perform rescue breathing by closing your Saint Bernard’s mouth (hold it closed with your hand) and breathing with your mouth directly into its nose until you see the dog’s chest expand. Once the chest expands, continue the rescue breathing once every 4 or 5 seconds. Transport the Saint Bernard immediately to a veterinarian.
Download pamphlets related to the Saint Bernard. Physical copies of these pamphlets may be purchased through the store. Select the icon to download.
About Our Breed by Arthur Hesser
A monastery and hospice was founded in the year 980 by the Augustinian monk Bernard de Menthon on the mountain which in Roman times was called Mons Jovis and from that time on the Great Saint Bernard Pass. This pass leading from Switzerland to Italy is called the Great Saint Bernard in contrast to the Little Saint Bernard Pass leading from France to Italy.
His Care, Feeding, and Training
This brochure was prepared by the Saint Bernard Club of America, INC, to acquaint new owners with a few basic facts about their puppy. It is not intended in any way to take the place of competent professional advice. Indeed, the new owner is urged to select a veterinarian as soon as the puppy arrives – finding one who is experienced in the special requirements of the giant breeds and who in general “likes big dogs.”
Basic Care Booklet
In order to keep you updated on the latest insights and techniques on taking care of your Saint Bernard, the Education Committee of the Saint Bernard Club of America is pleased to provide you with the information contained within this booklet. Topics you will find inside include, but are not limited to, housetraining, crate training, grooming, bloat, exercise and socialization.