Hypothermia, like heat exhaustion, can be very difficult to detect in your dog.
As winter approaches, it’s time to consider some of the hazards that hunting dogs may encounter this winter. Below are five different ways to keep your hunting dogs safe in the winter.
Do not leave your dog outside for extended periods of time without having a heated area/shelter they can access. While some breeds are meant to withstand the cold, most of them will want an escape from the cold and blustery fields. Heated dog boxes are ideal for the field. We also want to make sure to trade out our dogs on a regular basis.
“A good neoprene hunting vest will help protect your dog from the frigid water temperatures by providing extra protection.”
Wetland dogs are exposed to cold temperatures on a regular basis. One of the many ways to keep your hunting dogs safe in the winter is getting your dog a good neoprene hunting vest. A neoprene hunting vest will help protect your dog from the frigid water temperatures by providing extra protection. Also, it locks in their body heat. For the upland hunters, you may want to consider a lightweight blaze orange vest while hunting in the field. These vests can protect the dog from cuts, lacerations, and puncture wounds. By making them more visible, it helps keep them out of the line of fire. There could be many obstacles that are in the fields in or underneath the grass that will not be visible to us as hunters.
The feet of a hunting dog is their greatest asset. Another one of the many ways to keep your hunting dogs safe in the winter is to consider dog boots. Dog boots are there to protect your dog from the hazards that could be hiding under the snow and ice. The dog boots will also help hold in their body heat as well. Rinse your dogs’ paws with water after a hunt if they have been exposed to salted areas. The salt that is used to prevent ice can cause severe skin irritation and dry out their paws, resulting in serious paw damage to your pups.
Cuts & Lacerations
“Puncture wounds and cuts may not present themselves in an obvious manner but could possibly show up later and be very detrimental to the dog.”
Basic cuts and lacerations to the face, pads, chest, and legs caused by the landscape are common problems in hunting dogs. After every expedition, look your dogs over carefully. Puncture wounds and cuts may not present themselves in an obvious manner but could possibly show up later and be very detrimental to the dog. Clean out the wounds with clean water, peroxide, and Betadine if you have some. Deep wounds can be closed with staples (make sure you’re experienced with a stapler), though most lacerations can be glued. If you are in a rural area and cannot see a vet and decide to glue the laceration, make sure you leave a small weep hole in the wound for drainage until the dog can be taken to a veterinarian. Severe wounds or wounds near an eye should be analyzed by a vet.
Hypothermia can be hard to identify in your dog. Like heat exhaustion, it too can be very difficult to detect in your dog before it’s too late. If you notice signs such as excess shivering or shaking, it’s time to get your pup inside to a warm place. If you are uncertain your dog may have hypothermia, seek a professional veterinarian immediately.
(Ben Busby is part owner of a full-service upland hunting preserve and a member of Sportdog Brand’s Upland Field Staff. Busby has trained sporting dogs actively for five years)