The Society of Greyhound Veterinarians have issued unambiguous advice on racing in warm weather. While they do not have issues with greyhounds racing on hot days per se, they have produced guidance as to particular times of concern, along with a ‘stop racing’ temperature limit. Their statement reads:
The Welfare of Greyhounds in Hot Weather
Greyhounds are more vulnerable to the effects of high temperature than other breeds of dog, partly because of the anatomy and physiology of the breed and partly because of the ways in which they are managed. Accordingly the members of the Society of Greyhound Veterinarians [S.G.V.], the specialist division of the British Veterinary Association dedicated to the veterinary care and welfare of greyhounds before, during and after their racing careers, have concerns about the welfare of greyhounds racing in the current period of exceptionally hot weather.
We welcome the moves already made by the greyhound industry to reduce the risk of heat stroke such as ensuring the dogs have access to an ample supply of fresh water at all times, curtailing or cancelling pre-race parading and allowing the dogs sufficient time to rest after racing before they set out on their journey home.
The S.G.V. also supports the cancellation of race meetings and trial sessions and the postponing of racing at some tracks until the cool of the evening where remedial measures of this kind are not thought to be sufficient to ensure optimal greyhound welfare.
We understand that in some circumstances the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (G.B.G.B) is prepared to cancel racing and trials if the weather forecast is for unfavourably high temperatures, an approach which our Society is happy to endorse. Nevertheless constant vigilance is required of all industry stakeholders if optimum welfare standards are to be maintained.
We have particular concerns about greyhounds travelling to the track, as these may spend some considerable time in transit in vans where direct inspection may not always be easy. The S.G.V. would like to see air conditioning fitted in all vehicles used to transport greyhounds. The welfare of greyhounds in kennels at the track, where some may spend several hours waiting their turn to race, also requires rigorous monitoring. Again we regard the installation of air conditioning in track kennels as a key step in the maintenance of good welfare standards and one which should be instituted without delay.
The degree of heat stress suffered by a greyhound depends not only on the ambient temperature to which it is exposed but also on the relative humidity of the air it breathes. However, robust data on the effect of changes in relative humidity on the physiology of greyhounds are not generally available.
We understand that licenced track veterinary surgeons at G.B.G.B. tracks are currently reporting any cases of heat stress they see and logging the environmental temperature at which they occurred so as to compile a database to make good this lack on information Until sufficient data has been collated to permit evidence-based decision-making, there may be few alternatives to a reliance on monitoring environmental temperature alone.
Our recommendation is that the temperature should be measured regularly at a number of different locations in each stadium, preferably in such a way that the public can satisfy themselves that it is being done accurately. We would suggest that if the ambient temperature is in the region of 28oC-30oC serious consideration should be given to suspending racing and that racing should not take place in environmental temperatures in excess of 30oC.
In conclusion, our Society sees no reason why greyhound racing should not take place in hot weather, provided that environmental temperatures are rigorously monitored and meetings postponed promptly should the ambient temperature be such as to cause concern.
Yours in Sport,
Michael Watts MVB MSc MRCVS
Society of Greyhound Veterinarians