Greyhounds are expected to race in a broad range of climatic conditions and Heat Stress is recognised as a risk factor for greyhounds undertaking strenuous exercise during the summer months in Australia.
The controlling authorities of greyhound racing in the Australian States and Territories have implemented a variety of policies regarding racing in hot weather, however these have been formulated without any validated evidence and variation exists between jurisdictions. In South Australia there are approximately five hundred individual greyhound race starts per week and an equivalent number of trials which represents over nine hundred risk events per week in hot weather. The operational ‘Heat Policy’ of Greyhound RacingSA (GRSA) http://sa.thedogs.com.au/ only permits the cancellation of meetings if the temperature is forecast to exceed 40°C.
With the support of GRSA and Australian Greyhound Veterinarians (AGV) http://agva.ava.com.au/ an observational study has been conducted over the past three years to measure the increase in body temperature of greyhounds resulting from periods of intense exercise of short duration, and to determine if environmental conditions or phenotypical characteristics are associated with the body temperature change. The study has included examination of conditions in dog transport vehicles and the effectiveness of cooling systems in vehicles.
It is envisaged that results of the study will inform policy development for the conduct of greyhound racing in Australia and may assist in formulating recommendations for other sporting and working dog activities.
Researcher: Jane Mc Nicholl | Susan Hazel | Phil Stott | Gordon Howarth
Institute: University of Adelaide