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Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Livestock Guarding Dog Road Trip - Part 2

My second dog trip took me to Kamanjab, northeast of CCF just before you reach Etosha National Park in the north of Namibia. Unfortunately some of our dogs suffer from a tongue cancer, which is probably a combination of genetic susceptibility and the environment (i.e. high sun index), and we were visiting dogs in the region to take tongue biopsies. Mathieu, our French vet intern, came along to perform the surgeries in the field and I acted as vet technician. The hope is that once we know the extent of the cancer in the affected dogs we will be able to treat the condition.

We managed to biopsy three dogs and, although we had a couple of nervous moments, all turned out OK in the end. Once again, each dog was very well looked after by their owners and we had no issues handling the dogs and injecting anaesthetic. This whole process can be more complicated in the field as we don't have access to monitors and oxygen, but we are able to manually check temperature, heart rate and respiration.

The first dog, Hembwa, is starting to lose weight now as her tongue cancer is progressing, but she is such a friendly dog. Her surgery went well and she is clearly very bonded with her flock as, as soon as she came round, she jumped the kraal fence on very wobbly legs and ran back to her 'family'. Our second two surgeries were slightly more nerve-wracking as the first dog wouldn't wake up and the second dog kept holding his breath whilst under anaesthetic! But all ended well and the dogs were left to sleep off the drugs!  We shall continue to monitor the progress of their health throughout the year. It is good to see that, despite their illness, they are still acting as amazing livestock guarding dogs protecting their flock from predators such as cheetahs.

Best wishes,

Anja Bradley

Livestock Guarding Dog Project Officer

Cheetah Conservation Fund

Photos copyright (c) Cheetah Conservation Fund 2012



  1. Margaret Wilkie7:26 pm

    Thank you for a well-written post, Anja. Do you use/have access to the battery-operated miniature O2 sat monitors? I use them with my (human) patients, and wonder if they can be used on the dogs as well.
    I had no idea that the Anatolians were susceptible to tongue cancer. Every time I read CCF posts I learn something! Thanks again for a well-written, educational post.

  2. Dear Margaret
    Thank you very much for your kind words. We actually do use the miniature O2 saturation monitor here in the CCF vet clinic for monitoring our dogs and cheetahs whilst under anaesthetic. It is certainly a very important piece of equipment. I do hope to be able to acquire one which we can take with us on our dog trips.
    The tongue cancer in our dogs is something we are currently investigating and hoping to ascertain how and why it manifests itself. I have also come across mongrel dogs who have the cancer too, which suggests the environmental component, being as Namibia has a very high sun index and the dogs pant a lot during the heat of the day.
    I'm glad that you find our CCF posts educational. I certainly learn something new on a daily basis working here! Best wishes, Anja.
    Livestock Guarding Dog Officer