Following basic rules of hygiene is still the best way to prevent most pests. For this reason, kennel staff should first master the general principles of cleaning and disinfection and then learn how to select the most effective products for the purpose. Keeping a sanitary kennel is a constant struggle against the enemies (bacteria, viruses, mildew, parasites) that threaten dogs, food, drinking water and buildings.
These nuisances are transported by carriers (excrement, boots, wind, insects, rodents,
They can be combated through preventive or curative physical means (heat, ultraviolet light, high pressure, etc.) or chemical means (detergents, disinfectants). These methods provide many ways to prevent contamination.
Naturally, it is impossible to keep the kennel completely sterile at all times (the complete absence of germs). It is possible only to reach a balance between the germ level of the kennel and the natural defences of dogs. This can be done by maintaining facilities that are unfavourable to the development of disease-causing agents. In a favourable environment, bacteria attach themselves to surfaces (adhesion factors) and multiply exponentially (every bacterium divides in two in each generation).
Cleaning involves removing encrusted organic matter using detergent and elbow grease.
Cleaning is followed by disinfection, aimed at limiting the development of remaining germs (bacteriostatic and virustatic effects, etc.) or destroying most of the sensitive germs (bactericidal and virucidal properties, etc.). A well-chosen disinfectant has a range of effectiveness that covers the germs in question; for example, it should destroy 99% of the germs on the first use and 99% of the remaining 1% in the second use before they can reproduce.
Simply omitting one cleaning sequence (such as during a weekend break) can lead to the development of dangerous levels of disease-causing germs.
Knowing the following principles can help readers to better plan their kennel hygiene:
- “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. There is no shortcut to good hygiene.
- Due to scratches and unevenness, an apparently smooth surface may have a much greater real surface area.
This explains why materials like stainless steel and tile are much easier to disinfect than rusted metal and wooden blocks, which give germs a much greater opportunity for shelter and adhesion.
Some physical factors, such as temperature (both cold and heat), humidity and light (UV rays) can inhibit the spread of bacteria.
Remember as a general rule that warm temperatures, humidity and the lack of sun are unfavourable to good hygiene.
It is thus helpful, for example, to reinforce the activity of most disinfectants by diluting them in hot water and using them on runs during sunny periods.
A good cleaning without disinfection is better than disinfection without cleaning. By making the water “more slippery”, detergents (such as soap) help to remove organic matter and thereby expose germs to disinfectants. Conversely, many disinfectants lose their effectiveness in the presence of organic matter (excrement, dirt).
When organic matter comes into contact with disinfectants, it forms a crust that shelters and protects germs against the action of disinfectants.
For this reason, it is best to work in three separate steps (using detergent, rinsing, disinfecting) instead of using mixed products which, while they may save time, are never as effective. Thus, simply soaking soiled implements in a bucket of water mixed with household bleach gives only a false sense of security, since household bleach has little effect on organic matter.
It is better to manually remove dirt from implements or soak them in a detergent.
Burning organic matter (using a gardener’s flame gun, for example), produces effects comparable to the incrustation of surface proteins through coagulation. This method is therefore not recommended until all surface waste has been removed.
In sum, although it may seem illogical, it is impossible to properly disinfect surfaces unless they are already clean.
Each disinfectant has a certain range of effectiveness, that is, a series of germs it can usually fight.
The most common resistant germs are bacterial spores (certain bacteria resist environments that become unfavourable), parasite eggs and mildew.
As we saw above for insecticides, the repeated use of the same disinfectant may eventually lead to resistant germs that can develop with impunity. Effective hygiene therefore means alternating the products used.
Of course, alternating products does not mean mixing them, because certain disinfectants are incompatible with each other.
It is recommended to use an alkaline disinfectant six days out of seven (effective on organic matter) and to complement it with an acid disinfectant on the seventh day (effective on most mineral matter).
Some products, such as quaternary ammonium compounds, are not very effective in hard water.
The breeder can have water quality checked by public services or install a water softener which will also protect pipes and high-pressure pumps from scaling that will shorten their service life.
Other disinfectants, such as household bleach, can be used at different dilutions based on the purpose.
Most disinfectants are more effective in hot water. Remember this when choosing products exposed to cold (foot baths).
As a general rule, the lower the temperature, the longer the product application time.
Some modern disinfectants have the added benefit of losing their colour when they are no longer effective (visual check).
Disinfectants often have a very short effective period (less than six hours). This depends mainly on the excipient.
Others are sensitive to light. It is therefore necessary to check their manufacturing date and avoid trying to save money by storing them for a long period (household bleach, even in a sealed container, loses its effectiveness after only three months of