Helping You Get the Most From Your Hunting Dogs
Hot Weather Tips
The experts agree that preconditioning and preventative measures are the safest way to keep your gun dog from experiencing a heat-related illness. Here are a few more tips on avoiding problems by being proactive:
Do not leave your dog unattended in a closed vehicle, even for a few minutes. Vehicle temperatures can rise dramatically in a very short time. A closed car can act like an oven, even in moderately warm weather. Temperatures in a closed vehicle can reach well over 100 degrees in less than thirty minutes, even when outside temperatures are in the eighties.
Always carry water with you in the field. A bicycle or any "squeeze-type" water bottle works well and can be easily carried in your game vest. With very little practice, your dog will learn to drink from the stream of water. In situations such as a trial, hunting test or dove shoot, where you will be in the heat of the day for several hours, a five-gallon joint-compound bucket or one of the new portable/collapsible-type water buckets works very well. Extra water can be carried in several plastic milk jugs. Having a bottle of "Gatorade" or "Pedialyte" in your vehicle can quickly replace your dog’s electrolytes in a heat-related emergency.
Know the area. Always know where a water source is in the area you are hunting or training. In emergency situations such as heat exhaustion or stroke, you will need to cool the dog’s temperature down quickly. Immersion in water is one of the best ways. Knowing where a water source is ahead of time can save valuable minutes. While afield; allow your dog to take a swim break if you feel he is overheating. 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 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.
There are also several products on the market that can help keep your gun dog cool in the field. The "cool-down type" collars and pads are one. Soaked in water, the collars and pads expand, producing a cool gel-type material that is contained within. Once placed around the dog’s neck, the idea is that the collar will cool the blood in the arteries, thus lowering the dog’s core temperature. The pad works the same way, except it is meant as a place for the dog to lay down on and cool-down. Portable blinds can also help to keep your dog cool by providing some extra shade, especially while dove hunting.
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