The Vet Centre and another number of clinics held a Working Dog Survey last year. The survey was conducted across the Vet Company group of practices in the top of the South Island and yielded some interesting results. The information you have provided is helping us to design a working dog health and fitness programme that aims to improve the health and extend the working life of farm working dogs. This programme will be unveiled within the next few months.
Working conditions for farm dogs require physical fitness, endurance and good health. It is vitally important to keep these four legged employees in the best of health so they can lead a long and productive life, making the investment in their breeding, training and care well worthwhile. The loss of a dog through illness or injury can not only be inconvenient but costly. The benefits of minimising illness and injury as well as maximising the length of a dog’s working career are obvious.
Some of the key points to come out of the survey include:
- Working dogs suffer numerous injuries and health problems
- Their average working life is 8 years
- The average dog is worth $2,660 and a top dog $4,700, with an average team of dogs worth $30,500
- 5% of farmers surveyed were interested in enrolling 80% of their dogs in a health programme
- Key components of such a programme included a physical exam, nutrition advice, vaccination, worming, weight and condition scoring, a housing audit and advice.
- Dry food made up 58% of diets, home kill 27% and dog roll 15%
Eukanuba was the most popular dry food fed by 31% of farmers surveyed, followed by Tux 26%, Mighty Mix 23%, Science Diet 8% and a sprinkling of other minor brands.
We will be looking to sign up your athletes to provide them a veterinary care and support they need to perform to a consistently high standard. Being part of this program will give you financial benefits, performance enhancements for your team as well as allow you to contribute to the health of the New Zealand working dog.