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How To Keep Your Dogs Safe During Hunting Season

As fall approaches and those mornings start to seem a little cooler, we know that hunting season is upon us. Whether you use your dog to help with hunting or bring your dog along as a companion, keeping them safe when you are in the woods is extremely important. The first thing to remember is a protective vest that fits comfortably around the body. It is ideal to get one in a bright color such as orange or yellow with reflective stripes or markings. This allows them to be visible in the woods even from far distances. These vests also function as a protective layer from sticks, thorns, and burrs. Punctures and scrapes no matter how small can easily become infected while hunting.

Food for thought

The type of food your dog consumes is also particularly important to their health and will allow them to perform in tip-top shape. Whether your dog is a small game hunter, a bird hunter or you are in one of the last states that allow you to use them during deer season, a diet with higher fat and protein content will help sustain their energy. Hunting dogs exert many more calories than the average canine. For example, a 50-pound dog on average will lose around 2,200 calories while out hunting.

Even if your dog is not specifically a hunting dog but a companion for your excursions the right type of diet is just as important. Walking, running, and hiking by your side can still cause around 1,800 calories to be burned in a day. It is all about intake and outtake and making sure your four-legged friend is getting just as much in as they put out. Be sure to choose the right type of dog food that is best suited for your breed of dog.

Water, water, and more water

Making sure your dog has enough water while they are out with you is another essential safety tip to remember. Dehydration can come on swiftly and become a serious concern. Hunting dogs lose up to 40% of moisture from respirations which is twice the amount of a normal household pet. This means that the amount of water they receive must be doubled and, in some cases, tripled depending on the temperatures and heat index of the day. Dehydration in your dog can lead to vomiting, loss of limb movement, kidney, and other organ failures, and in some extreme cases even death. Getting out in front of this by making sure plenty of water is packed in advance is key.

If signs of dehydration do occur while out hunting find a shady spot for your dog to lay down and give them small amounts of water at a time. Dogs tend to drink too much when they are dehydrated, this can lead to vomiting which causes symptoms to progress faster. Wrapping your dog in a cool moist towel while they drink will help lower the core body temperature. Remember to focus predominantly on their head and underbelly. A good thing to keep in mind is if you are hot and thirsty so is your loyal hunting buddy and that is when it is time for both of you to stop and have a drink.

Too tired to go on

Pure exhaustion can be another silent but deadly issue when it comes to taking your dog out on a long hunting trip. If your dog is used for the actual hunt, remember to give plenty of time to rest in between trips. Flushing out birds and small game exerts excessive amounts of energy at one time so allow your dog to lay down and rest between runs if necessary. If your dog is used for deer tracking, they are still using more energy than they would if they were just at home. Making sure they have plenty of rest stops throughout the morning can ensure they will not be too tired to go back out for an evening hunt. If you are planning a long hunting trip, then exercises to build up your dog’s stamina may be necessary to prepare them for a full day out in the woods instead of a few hours. Remember not to push your dog too hard if they are very young or have started to enter the stage of seniority. These age ranges can be susceptible to growth plate injuries which can result in having to immobilize the affected area or in worse cases corrective surgery.

Vet visits can be a lifesaver

Down here in the south flea, tick, and mosquito season can sometimes seem to go on forever due to the prolonged hot and humid days, so the risk of contracting a disease that these little pests carry is still relevant even into the later months of fall. Regular vet visits for their vaccines, as well as flea, tick and heartworm medications, are another way to make sure your hunting dog is safe and healthy while they spend their days out doing what they love.

First Aid, a last resort

Even the most skilled and experienced hunters can find themselves in a scary and dangerous situation. Should the worst happen on a hunting trip you want to make sure that you are prepared for anything and can act immediately. First aid kit supplies such as gauze, bandages, wraps and antiseptics are all necessary but there are a few more things you may want to pack specifically for those long treks; emergency mylar blanket, paw wax, towels to wet and cool down, dish soap to wash out paws and remove any toxins from a wound, and sanitizer which can be used as an anti-bacterial barrier.

For many of us in the south hunting is a way of life and that hunting dog is your right-hand man. Treating them like family comes second nature at home and being out in actual nature should be no different. With the proper tools, you and your dog can spend season after season doing what you love.

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