Dog Welfare - cooperation between dog teams and veterinarians

Author: Fredrik Ljone Holst/Victoria Fleming         Publish date: 02.02.14 23:41

Mushers are considerate and do not take chances with their dogs nor do they push them too hard. The racers listen to advice we give, says one of the veterinarians who was on duty late on Sunday night. The vets also say that they have the overall impression that the dogs are well cared for and that this gets better and better with each passing year.

- There are mushers who thank us and tell us that we are very helpful. The dog handlers appreciate the work we do. We check the dogs quickly and efficiently and without unnecessary stress.

And its not just the vets who get praised by mushers, praise is deserved both ways, both to the dog teams and to the vets.

- The dog teams are very good at seeking advice on things that worry them. Mushers and handlers will also ask us to double check the dogs and will often ask questions such as ‘whether or not a dog has had enough to eat’ explained one of the vets. The attitude at the checkpoints is certainly one of cooperation and working together and not against each other.

Chief Veterinarian Annette Kriller emphasized the importance of being able to ask questions and cooperate at the musher’s meeting before the beginning of the race.

- I do like to believe that the riders are taking heed of the vets’ advice and that they are listening to our expertise, she says with a smile, adding that the goal is to ensure that the dogs’ welfare gets better and better every year.

It was two years ago that frost damage was a particularly high risk. The vets say that the conditions this year have not led to any particularly type of injury or damage. However, this year the main problems are with loose tracks, making the race heavy work for both the mushers and their dogs.

- We have seen many weary dogs, and there have been some muscle and shoulder problems, says veterinarians at Tynset.

- It is clear that the riders want and appreciate the help we can give them, states the chief veterinarian Annette Kriller.


The dogs benefit greatly when mushers and veterinarians cooperate well. Photo: Geir Sørmoen