TeamMate a prospective study of working farm dog health and wellbeing

A survey of veterinarians found that approximately 40% of working farm dogs that came to the clinic had suffered a traumatic injury, and the other 60% had a medical illness. When we asked farmers about health problems their dogs had, 50% of working farm dogs had an injury; and when their dogs suffered an injury, it increased the risk of death. These studies contribute valuable information about the occurrence of disease but do not allow us to determine what increases the risk of a dog suffering from injury or illness.

In 2014, a five-year longitudinal study of working farm dogs, called TeamMate, was launched. Since the launch, researchers have enrolled 149 farmers and 765 dogs. Dogs enrolled in the study get a full physical examination by a Vetlife veterinarian twice a year. The study will provide a substantial insight into health conditions that affect farm dogs. For the more common conditions, we will be able to identify risk factors. We will also be able to explore protective factors for the longevity of a farm dog’s working life. The results of the study will allow us to make detailed recommendations for the management of New Zealand’s hardest agricultural worker, the farm dog.

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