Caring for the Greyhound in Hot Weather
Hot weather can cause ‘Heat Stress’ in greyhounds. High humidity will increase the risk. A greyhound loses heat mainly by evaporating water from moisture from the lungs, airway and mouth by panting. Heat loss also occurs to a much lesser extent via the skin and through the excretion of urine , faeces and saliva.
These methods of controlling body temperatures in dogs are normally very efficient but if outside temperatures are too high then the main heat control mechanism of panting is not sufficient to keep the dog’s body temperature within the normal range 38-39* Cent.
As detailed in RCÉ’s Code of Practice in the Care & Welfare of the Greyhound, the owner/trainer of a greyhound is responsible for the animal’s welfare. The principles which underpin best welfare practice apply at all times but some take on a greater urgency during hot weather, these principles being ‘Freedom from thirst, discomfort, pain, distress and the freedom to express normal behaviour.
MINIMISING THE POSSIBILITY OF HEAT STRESS
Keep you greyhound stress free in hot weather. Think......
Transporting a greyhound during hot weather can be high risk unless the vehicle is air conditioned or can be adequately ventilated.
AT THE TRACK
On arrival at a track, remove greyhounds immediately from the vehicle. Give immediate access to water. It may be advisable sponge/spray the dog with cool water around the head, neck and underneath front and back legs. Report any signs of heat stress to the stewards / vet on duty. Signs of heat stress can vary from excessive panting, drooling, staggering/cramping to seizure and collapse. Do not give oral electrolytes to a heat stressed dog.
POST RACE TRAVEL
Owners/trainers should ensure that after racing, dogs are immediately cooled down (hosed) ,given access to drinking water and where possible placed in a cool kennel, before travelling home from the track. Be extra vigilant and prevent onset of heat stress by doing regular checks on dogs and breaking the journey. On arrival at home, hose the dog as necessary to cool him. Provide fresh cold water to drink and be satisfied that when the dog is placed in the home kennel that he is not showing any of the signs of heat stress.