Wet Saint Bernard

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
December, 2013