Aug 14, 2017 News
– prone to heart, skin problems, says veterinarian
A local veterinarian is concerned that many local dog owners are importing exotic breeds that are native to different climatic conditions, and suffer in Guyana’s tropical environment.
Two perfect examples are the Husky and Akita breeds. These dogs are sometimes sold for as much as $120,000. According to private practicing veterinarian, Dr. Ozaye Dodson, these breeds are more prone to developing heart related complications and skin problems, among other ailments, when they are brought to the tropics.
The Husky’s history goes back to Siberia, Russia. That region has short summers and extremely long cold winters. The Huskies have thick coats to keep them warm. It is the same for the ‘Akita’ whose appearance indicates adaptation for cold weather since they have very thick coats and is considered among the top 20 dogs best suited for cold climates.
Therefore, one could imagine the experience these two popular breeds have in Guyana, which has a warm and tropical climate all year round.
Dr. Dodson said on many occasions these breeds enter Guyana through legitimate processes, with importers following the various procedures established by the Ministry of Agriculture. As such, he said that by no means can the importation be deterred as long as the animals come with their veterinary health certificates and are from countries considered safe.
However, the veterinarian said that some dogs are smuggled into Guyana through the porous Brazilian border. He said that the Husky and Akita breeds are not ideal for Guyana and as a result in many cases the dogs would suffer from arthritis, heat stress and heat stroke.
Further, he said that the two breeds are more prone to cardio problems and dermatological conditions. He said that it is not easy for these animals, with their thick coats, to rid their bodies of heat.
“There will be some amount of heat or caloric temperature from the metabolic process. You find that most of the sweat glands in these animals tend to be in the lower parts of the body and if they are heavily furred or what we would call heavy skin coat, you may find difficulty in getting rid of the heat, especially in these kinds of climatic conditions.”
As a result, Dr. Dodson said that these dogs may pant a lot and in many occasions they may be quite irritable. “Unlike us as humans, we can find a condition or situation to suit ourselves, if we feel too hot, if your home has air condition, or we can take a glass of water or actually have better ventilation in your home or taking a bit of clothing off. Unlike these animals, most of the time they are kept in conditions they have no voluntary control over, like in kennels with no consideration for their welfare.”
The veterinarian advised that in order to make the animals a bit more comfortable, they should be kept in a heavily ventilated environment. He added that in some instances he had advised that ice cubes be placed in the animals’ water bowls so that they can have access to water.
He said that if there is extreme heat, the dogs can easily suffer from dehydration, which can lead to the animals developing renal problems. Further, he said that if the animal suffers from a heat stroke, it can die.
“If there is certain damage to the brain that is irreversible, you may find that it may probably damage the centre that is responsible for respiration and may actually carry some other effects, such as paralysis.”
Dr. Dodson recommended that the kennels for such dogs should be placed in an area, such as under a tree, where there is some amount of shade.
Recently, many of these dogs have been experiencing nose bleeds, according to Dr. Dodson. He said that it is one of the conditions that can be expected. “Just like for us, when we move to the temperate countries especially if you are going in the winter season, you may find some of your capillaries in your nostrils dilating to actually interchange the body heat with the ambient and you may find some ruptured capillaries and some nose bleeding.”
When asked what the average lifespan of these breeds is, Dr. Dodson said that in the temperate countries, the Husky and Akita can live as long as 12 to 15 years. However, in the tropical environment, the dogs would probably live to a maximum of seven years before they start to deteriorate.
He said that much more needs to be done to have owners educated about the breeds and breeds of choice for the tropics. He recommended that some of the best foreign breeds for the tropical climate are German Shepherds, Cocker Spaniel, Golden Retriever and Labradors.
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