Working dogs in spotlight


Dr Andrew Worth

Latest research into the health of service and working dogs will feature at this week’s World Small Animal Veterinary Association conference in Auckland.

Police, guide, search and rescue and farm dogs all contribute to our community and their wellbeing is the focus of a research centre at Massey University.

Three researchers from Massey University’s Centre for Service and Working Dog Health will lead a stream focusing on working dogs on Saturday, to an international audience of veterinarians.

WSAVA 2013 will see delegates from around the world meet in Auckland to hear from leading researchers and veterinarians.

Senior lecturer in small animal surgery Dr Andrew Worth will speak on lameness diagnosis, carpal and tarsal injuries, and lumbosacral disease in working dogs.

He says the centre is unique in the world and is leading the way in several areas of research. “The centre funds a number of research projects each year that further our understanding of diseases which affect service and working dogs,” he says. “New Zealand has a high number of working dogs on farms which is a major focus for us, and the centre also works closely with the New Zealand Police and the Foundation for the Blind’s guide dog service.”

He says working dogs are often more susceptible to injuries. “We try and provide prognostic information about outcomes for working dogs after treatment for various injuries. We also carry out research on the best nutrition for working dogs and also look at the various diseases prevalent in a population. We try to provide good research so veterinarians have accurate data to better educate shepherds and working dog handlers.”

Other centre researchers Dr Nick Cave and Dr Kate Hill will join Dr Worth in presenting at the conference. They, along with Paul Hughes of Taihape Veterinary Services and Professor Boyd Jones, also presented a well-received stream at the recent International Sheep Veterinary Congress in Rotorua.

A number of other Massey staff will present at the WSAVA conference, including several from the Centre for Infectious Disease Research. Professor Nigel French will give a talk on emerging zoonoses – diseases that can be transferred between animals and humans. Dr Jackie Benschop will talk on leptospirosis in New Zealand and Eve Pleydell will speak about antibiotic resistant bacteria in people and their pets.

Kerri Morgan of Wildbase will present on veterinary care of the kiwi and also reflect on the work of the National Oiled Wildlife Response team at the Rena oil spill in Tauranga.

Dr Jonathan Bray will give a number of presentations on oncological surgery, while Associate Professor Christine Thomson will talk about neurologic lesions.


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