Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs
Cold Weather Tips
Experts agree that preventative measures are the safest way to keep your gun dog from experiencing a cold weather illness or injury. Here are a few tips to keep your gun dog warm in the fowl weather:
Always carry water with you in the field. With very little practice, your dog will learn to drink from the stream of water. Even in very cold weather a dog needs water. Many times while waterfowling you may not be near a source of fresh water. The water may be contaminated, as many beaver ponds are with leptospirosis or may simply be brackish; it is always a safe bet to carry your own water. A bicycle water bottle or any “squeeze-type” water bottle works well and can be easily carried in your game vest.
Know the area. Always knowing the area you are hunting or training in is a good idea. Should an emergency arise, knowing the area can save valuable minutes. Also, know where the nearest veterinarian’s office is. Having a cell phone in your vehicle is also helpful and will save you valuable time in an emergency. Local police can usually direct you to a local animal hospital.
Carry a first-aid kit and know how to use it. Being prepared for an emergency and knowing what to do if one should occur, is one of the best ways to keep your dog alive. Prevention is another, and prevention comes from knowledge. There are several good books and a few videos on the market dealing with canine heath and first aid. Commercial canine first-aid kits are available from most gun dog supply catalogs or you can make one up yourself. Ask your veterinarian for some tips on what to include. (See link to article on First Aid Kit)
There are also several products on the market that can help keep your gun dog warm, especially while waterfowling. Portable blinds and blind material can cut down the wind dramatically. Keeping a wet dog out of a cold wind can help to keep him warmer. Neoprene or insulated pads for the blind or boat will keep your dog out of the mud or off the cold wet deck of your boat. Camouflaged neoprene dog vests, provide additional buoyancy, protection against cuts, abrasions and punctures from submerged objects and they help to break-up the dog’s outline. They are available in several different sizes and a variety of camouflage patterns. Portable dog platforms allow the dog to remain above and out of the water. They also serve as a perch, where the dog can more easily mark downed birds. Whether you make your own from an old tree-stand or purchase one, make sure it has a piece of wood, indoor/outdoor carpet, turf or insulated padding on it; cold wet fur can freeze to metal!
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