health and safety
We want you and your dog to have the very best experience at our Muddy Dog Challenge. Your welfare, and that of your dog, is our priority - and we therefore strongly recommend that you read the following health and safety information.
important considerations for you
- We have put together our top training tips for humans as well as a health and safety video for you and your dog, which will help you prepare for the course
- All obstacles can be avoided so be realistic and only take on those you are comfortable with
- If you are unsure about your ability, seek advice from your GP prior to the event. There will be first aid on-site at the events should it be needed
- Ensure your footwear is suitable for wet and slippery conditions, and comfortable to run in. And tighten those laces!
- In the unlikely event that you are injured or unwell on the day, you may not be able to transport your dog home. Ensure you have made prior arrangements should you need help, especially if you are travelling a fair distance to the event
- Many of the Muddy Dog Challenge courses go through natural water, please try to avoid swallowing this water. If you develop diarrhoea or other symptoms following the event please seek medical help.
- Keep yourself protected and comfortable in the sun by applying sun cream, keeping yourself covered up and wearing breathable clothing
- Carry water with you to stay hydrated and seek out shade and water stops on the course. The event is not timed, so there's no shame in taking some time out to rest and cool down
- If you are feeling unwell, please speak to an event volunteer or staff member who can call for medical assistance should you need it
Please be aware that many of the Muddy Dog Challenge routes take you through woodland and grassy areas, both of which are common areas for ticks, which can carry Lyme disease. Please check your skin for ticks when you have completed the course and see the medic if you find a tick or bite. If you start to feel ill following the event, please seek medical help.
Although adder bites in the UK are extremely rare, adders can be found in grassy areas and woodland, so please stay vigilant when taking part in a Muddy Dog Challenge. If you get bitten, please alert the nearest member of staff or Battersea volunteer and stay where you are. We will send medical support to you.
important considerations for your dog
- As well as human training tips, we have also put together our top training tips for dogs
- We advise not exercising your dog for at least an hour before and after meals
- All the obstacles can be avoided, so be realistic about what your dog can take on and only take on those your dog is comfortable with. There will be a team of volunteers, including expert dog handlers, at every obstacle to hold your dog whilst you give them a go if needed
- If you are unsure about your dog’s ability, talk to your vet prior to the event. There will be vets on-site at the events should they be needed. In the event of an emergency, you will need to visit either your own local, or a nearby, vets practice. Details of a nearby vets will be available at the vet’s and information marquees on the day
- We’d advise you to fit your dog with a harness to prevent pulling on their collar and neck, and to use a standard lead rather than a retractable or flexi one. We suggest using the harness during your training, so your dog gets used to wearing it
- If you’ve got a short-coated dog, don't forget to apply some dog-friendly UV protection sunscreen to exposed sensitive areas of the skin, e.g. the tips of their ears, nose and back
- Carry water for both you and your dog to stay hydrated and seek out shade and water stops on the course and in the event village
- Due to the high number of dogs taking part, we ask all owners to keep an eye on their own pet’s health. If in any doubt, speak to a member of staff or on-site vet
- Older dogs and those with short snouts may particularly struggle in the heat. If you’re worried about your dog coping in the heat, please speak to your vet
- If you're travelling to the event with your dog by car, keep them cool by taking a supply of cold fresh water and a portable bowl, making regular stops to take in water
Never leave your dog in the car in warm weather, regardless of whether it's parked in a shaded area or there’s a gap in the window. A car becomes like an oven – even when it might not feel warm to humans.
- Your dog may be overwhelmed being surrounded by so many people and other dogs. Think about how they will react and don’t put them in a situation where they may panic or try and protect themselves
- Your dog must be on its lead at all times during the event
- Bring treats with you to reward your dog, giving them plenty of reassurance
- It is very important that your dog is microchipped with your up to date contact details
You may have seen or heard news reports about this disease, which can be fatal to dogs.
Alabama Rot has been known about since the late 1980s in the USA. Since December 2012, a number of suspected and confirmed cases have been seen throughout the UK. The cause of the disease remains unknown and there is no evidence to link the disease to mud or indeed any other environmental factors. It is important however that you familiarise yourself with the information available.
- Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists – a leading UK specialist on Alabama Rot with whom Battersea has been consulting – have produced a helpful fact sheet for dog owners. You can also find more information from the Forestry Commission
- We'd suggest talking to your own vet if you have any questions or concerns about Alabama Rot or taking part in the event
- David Walker from Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists says: “The risk to dogs taking part in the Muddy Dog Challenge would be considered very low. Although an environmental trigger for the disease is possible, one has not yet been identified despite extensive research. Additionally, the disease seems to have a seasonal distribution with the majority of cases being identified between November and April.”
- We’ve carried out a full risk assessment on our Muddy Dog Challenge events and have been consulting with Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists on Alabama Rot to ensure we have as much information about the disease as possible
- We will have vets on-site at each event and rinse stations, if participants wish to rinse their dogs once they finish the course - however, at this stage we do not know if this is necessary or of any benefit
- It is important to remember that only a very small number of dogs have been affected. Without knowing the trigger for the disease, it is impossible to give specific advice
Blue green algae is a term used to describe a group of bacteria called cyanobacteria, most common in lakes and ponds during hot weather when there is less rainfall, but it can also occur at other times of the year. The bacteria cannot be seen with the naked eye unless they clump together. Sadly, exposure to toxic blue-green algae is often fatal and can cause long term health problems in dogs that survive after drinking or swimming in algae-contaminated water.
- We’ve carried out a full risk assessment on our Muddy Dog Challenge events and will be testing all bodies of water used for obstacles three to four months prior to the event days
- We will also test all bodies of water used for obstacles two to three days ahead of each event and will be redirecting the route of the course if we have any concerns
- We'd suggest talking to your own vet if you have any questions or concerns
Please be aware that many of the Muddy Dog Challenge routes take you and your dog through woodland and grassy areas, both of which are common areas for ticks. Please ensure you check your dog for ticks after completing the course and visit the onsite vet, or your own vet if you are concerned.
Although adder bites in the UK are extremely rare, adders can be found in grassy areas and woodland, so please stay vigilant when taking part in a Muddy Dog Challenge. If your dog gets bitten, please keep them calm and alert the nearest member of staff or Battersea volunteer and stay where you are. We will send veterinary support to you.