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Canine care and maintenance are essential aspects of ensuring the health and well-being of your dog, particularly for working or service dogs that are regularly deployed in various environments. Proper care includes providing a balanced diet, regular exercise, grooming, and veterinary check-ups. In addition to these basics, there are specialized tools and practices to protect your dog during and after deployment, such as using booties, dog goggles, and proper decontamination procedures.

Booties: These are protective coverings for a dog’s paws, designed to safeguard them from harsh surfaces, extreme temperatures, and potential hazards like sharp objects, chemicals, or allergens. When selecting booties, ensure they are made of durable, waterproof material and fit snugly without restricting circulation or movement. It’s essential to gradually acclimate your dog to wearing booties by introducing them in short intervals and rewarding your dog for tolerating them.

Dog goggles: Also known as “doggles,” these protective eyewear products shield a dog’s eyes from debris, wind, and harmful UV rays. They can be particularly useful for dogs working in environments with dust, sand, or bright sunlight. When selecting dog goggles, look for a comfortable, adjustable, and secure fit. As with booties, introduce the goggles gradually and use positive reinforcement to encourage your dog to accept them.

Decontamination wipe-down: After each deployment, it’s important to properly clean and decontaminate your dog to remove any potentially harmful substances they may have encountered. This process should include:

a. Inspection: Examine your dog’s entire body, including paws, ears, and mouth, for any signs of injury, irritation, or foreign objects.

b. Paw cleaning: Use a damp cloth or pet-safe wipes to clean each paw, paying special attention to the areas between the pads. Check for any cuts, abrasions, or signs of discomfort. If your dog wore booties during deployment, remove and clean them thoroughly before storage.

c. Coat cleaning: Use decontamination wipes or a damp cloth to clean your dog’s coat. Pay special attention to areas that may have come into contact with contaminants. Be gentle to avoid damaging the coat or causing discomfort.

d. Eye and ear cleaning: Use a soft, damp cloth or pet-safe wipes to clean around your dog’s eyes and ears. Avoid using cotton swabs or inserting anything into the ear canal, as this can cause damage or push debris further in.

e. Post-deployment bath: Depending on the nature of your dog’s work and the level of contamination they may have encountered, a full bath with a pet-safe shampoo might be necessary. Make sure to thoroughly rinse your dog to remove all soap residue, as this can cause skin irritation.

Remember to consult with your veterinarian for specific recommendations based on your dog’s breed, age, and type of work. Establishing a routine for canine care and maintenance will ensure your dog remains healthy and ready for their next deployment.