Good Health - Anti-Poaching Pups Get a Visit From The Dentist
Photo Cred: Supplied | Hill’s Pet Nutrition

The anti-poaching dogs rely on their noses to perform their role in the anti-poaching unit. It is therefore imperative that they maintain their oral health in optimal condition to keep them working at their peak.

 

KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (06 March 2022) – The Ezemvelo Canine Unit specialises in cold scent tracking and operates in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park and uMkhuze Section, iSimangaliso Wetland Park. They are a significant part of the team combating rhino poaching.  Recently, three anti-poaching dogs in the unit underwent dental procedures.

Dental procedures are not only important for ensuring the overall health and oral hygiene of dogs but are of vital importance to the anti-poaching dog unit as they help to maintain the scenting ability of the dogs. The recent dental procedures performed by local Highway veterinarian, Dr Patrick Liversage, were made possible through a donation from Hill’s Pet Nutrition to Wildlife ACT. Wildlife ACT is a conservation NGO that has partnered with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to provide support to the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park Canine Unit. The procedures took place at the Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park and involved a full health check, dental prophylaxis, including scale and polish, as well as survey dental radiographs. Two of the three dogs also needed a canine tooth restoration.

Good Health - Anti-Poaching Pups Get a Visit From The Dentist
Photo Cred: Supplied | Hill’s Pet Nutrition

Dennis Kelly from Ezemvelo Canine Unit says that the canine unit plays a crucial role in anti-poaching efforts.

“This unit has improved our response capability to poaching threats and enables us to apprehend poachers before rhinos are killed.” 

Dr Liversage says that dental disease is quite common in all dogs, working and domestic. By age three, over 80 percent of dogs have some form of dental disease. Dental disease has serious consequences if not treated, as bacteria in the plaque can enter the bloodstream and spread to the heart, kidneys and liver. As the severity of dental disease progresses, it can cause loss of teeth as well as swelling, pain, and inflammation in the nasal passages.

“The tracker dogs rely on their noses to perform their role in the anti-poaching unit. It is therefore imperative that we maintain their oral health in optimal condition to keep them working at their peak,” says Dr Liversage. 

The dogs, which are Bloodhound/Doberman crossbreeds, are trained to follow tracks and can follow human scent that is up to six hours old. Often working in challenging weather conditions over long distances, the overall health and fitness of the dogs are vital for the dogs’ well-being, performance, and results.

“These highly specialised dogs and their handlers have become powerful partners in wildlife protection and anti-poaching efforts. They form part of the wider conservation management practices in these parks,” says Mark Gerrard, the managing director of Wildlife ACT.   

“Sustainability is of the utmost importance to Hill’s Pet Nutrition, and it is important that we support dog units such as these that are helping to protect our vital resources and the biodiversity of our heritage,” says Dr Guy Fyvie, Veterinary Advisor at Hill’s Pet Nutrition. 

Good Health - Anti-Poaching Pups Get a Visit From The Dentist
Photo Cred: Supplied | Hill’s Pet Nutrition

Sources: Hill’s Pet Nutrition
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