Snowy Owl Tours – Sled Dog Welfare

As a dog first company, we are advocates for sled dog welfare.  We are in support of the practical and legal concept of animal ownership and in practice, love our sled dog pack and share our lives with them. So, why should sled dog welfare be important to you?  To put it simply, there are no regulations in the sled dog sport.

“Sled Dogs are Different” This is a common blanket statement used to excuse and justify poor sled dog care or practices.

Although a sled dog’s genetic composition is unlike any other dog breed, intellectually, he or she is still a dog and all dogs have the same important requirements to be healthy and happy. Love, care, compassion, enrichment, food, water, exercise, socialization, housing, bedding and veterinary care are all important components in a dog’s life and should always be done to the highest standards.  Sled dogs are purpose bred which means they thrive when working however, this does not excuse the non-existence of exceptional dog care.

Sled Dog Welfare is the Snowy Owl Way

At Snowy Owl we treat and care for our sled dogs as “working pets” rather than “working dogs”. This ensures a pack of personable, happy, healthy and trustworthy companions! We take great pride in all aspects of the care that our pack receives 365 days a year.

Nutrition and Hydration

In order to maintain a healthy pack, we must be flexible and anticipate any changes our dogs experience such as temperature, trail conditions and an increase in work.  Having this foresight allows us to tweak their meals and ensure their diet reflects their current working schedules and environment. 

The ways in which we ensure our pack is receiving the appropriate amount of hydration is dependent on the season. During the summer months are pack always has access to fresh water, which is checked and refreshed multiple times over the course of the day. Hydration over the colder months can be challenging since water freezes.  We must be very flexible in our watering schedule to ensure we are providing our pack with enough water but also the correct temperature of water. 

Sled Dog Housing

Our dog houses are made using high quality pine – an organic, breathable product. During the summer months our packs houses received a mix of cedar and pine shavings. Over the winter, their houses are packed with straw, as it is a great insulator. Bedding is checked daily to ensure it is not wet, soiled and that there is plenty to keep the dogs comfortable, and a full change out of all bedding is done weekly.

Cleaning

Keeping our kennel environment clean prevents illness, respiratory infections, skin infections and disease which is why it is important that we keep each dog’s home and area sanitary but also their food bowls, water bowls, houses, collars, harnesses and all our feed scoops, ladles, feed buckets. We have strategically set up our kennel on a gradual incline and use a base of finely crushed limestone which provides a natural drainage system. Feces are removed from our entire kennel a minimum of six times every day. Urine is easily controlled in the summer as our kennel foundation is finely crushed limestone and is built on an incline allowing for easy drainage.  During the winter, urine typically drains through the snow and out of the kennel, however, should there be any problem areas, we chip and remove the urine the same way we do the faeces.

Tethering

Based on our experience with our pack, we know that when done correctly, tethering is a perfectly safe and humane method of confining dogs when they are not free running or out running on snowy trails.  We believe that if tethering is done, that the dogs must be supervised with caretakers available always should a dog require assistance.  We also know that dogs are very social animals therefore, our tethering system is set up to allow for play and interaction with their surrounding neighbors.  However, as much as dogs are social, they also like to have their own quiet time where they are not bothered.

Sled Dog Welfare Means Regular Vet Care

Our pack’s health is carefully overseen by our team and the professionals at the Cochrane Animal Clinic and together we ensure our pack remains in optimal condition physically and mentally year-round. Our husky heroes see our vet care team for annual health checkups and physical examinations at which time they receive their annual vaccines.  Further to this, our pack visits our vet for teeth cleaning, lump removals and biopsies, neuters and spays, or any specialized procedures like ultrasounds, x-rays or blood work for example.  Like with most pet owners, we bring any pack member we have concerns about in for prompt assessments by our vet team.

Best of All, Sled Dog Welfare Means Free Runs!

Sled dog welfare matters to us! Our sled dogs are let off their tethers for daily free run in our enclosed kennel facility all year round. We believe it is important for them to let loose and just be dogs! During free run in the summer, our dogs enjoy running through sprinklers, cooling off in their doggie pools and playing with their toys. During the winter months, the pools and sprinklers get put away, but the toys of course stay!