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Webinar: Thermal Imaging in Canine Sports - Improving Welfare

Thermal imaging is a powerful tool that can be used to promote welfare and improve the competitiveness of dogs competing in sports. Digatherm and Canine Body Balance present an informative webinar: Thermal Imaging in Canine Sports - Improving Welfare for the Individual Athlete.

Welfare of Canine Athletes

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Competing in dog sports requires dogs to be fit, healthy, and injury free. But how can we minimise the risk of injury occurring during dog sports? Early detection of thermal changes in the dog's body can help identify performance limitations and signs of dysfunction. Using veterinarian thermal imaging in canine sportscanine fitness trainers can analyse the canine athlete's thermal profile, informing handlers of any significant difference in surface temperature.

Understanding the physiological condition of the dog allows handlers to make informed choices that promote animal welfare in sports. Physical examinations are essential when assessing canine athletes, but when combined with thermal images, we gain a deeper insight into the dogs' health. The objective analysis that thermal imaging provides is obtained quickly and relatively easily. 

The thermal camera detects radiant heat emitted from the canine athlete's body, and the images created are analysed by the thermographer for thermal asymmetries and areas of hypothermia and hyperthermia. Areas of considerable hypothermia are associated with restricted blood flow and indicate that the athlete is not ready to compete safely. Handlers can optimise both the welfare and competitiveness of the dog by working to increase the blood flow throughout the body; this may mean the individual dog requires modifications to their warm-up routine.

Where temperature differences indicate an area of hyperthermia, the athlete should be checked for inflammation, acute injury, or imbalances in muscular activity; minute temperature changes can be the first sign of injuries. Using thermal imaging to compare pre and post-event images of the dog allows handlers to monitor for those sublet thermal signs rather than waiting for lameness to appear. 

The use of thermal imaging in human sports medicine has been around for some time, monitoring human athletes' skin temperature to help detect muscle injuries or effects from high-intensity exercise. Bringing the skills and knowledge across to canine sports such as flyball, agility, racing greyhounds, and frisbee sports helps owners to determine if their dog is ready to compete and the effects of the activity on their body - or how fit they are.

Detect Thermal Issues:

The canine athletes are asked to sit or stand to take static images. The process is non-invasive and similar to taking a photographic image of the dog. Athletes trained in cooperative care and to stack may find the process easier and produce more precise, consistent images. The camera detects the thermal profile of the dog, that is, the infrared heat energy emitted by their outer surface. The camera's software then processes this information.

Measure Temperature Differences:

Once the images are instantaneously processed, we can measure temperature differences, looking for thermal asymmetries or abnormalities. We can also measure the thermal response of the dog using thermal video; each dog will have a unique response based on its metabolism, which emotions and arousal can drive. Giving us insight into their emotional and physical well-being.

Inform Handlers & Owners:

The data collected from thermographic imaging is used to inform handlers and owners. Understanding the immediate physiological state of the athlete means that approbate action can be taken. Every time we make an informed decision we have the opportunity to really consider the animal's welfare and how they are, or might be impacted by the sports event.

Act in the Best Intrestest of the Canine Athlete:

Informed handlers can take action that promotes the welfare of their athlete. Extra warm-up can be conducted for dogs not thoroughly warmed up or pulled from an event if they show early signs of injury. We want dogs to compete in an optimal state of health, so they can perform their best and reduce the risk of injuries, allowing them to continue competing into the future for as long as is healthy.

Register now to learn more about thermal imaging in canine sports: 

Webinar Replay Available Now

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