In certain areas of the country biting and stinging insects such as fire ants, centipedes, black flies and several species of wasps’, hornets and bees, including “Africanized” or “Killer Bees”, can also pose a serious threat to you and your four legged partner. Depending on each individuals allergic reaction to a biting or stinging insect will determine the required medical treatment. Reactions can vary drastically from mild to severe swelling to the most severe reaction causing coma, respiratory failure or death. A good antihistamine such as Benadryl should be kept in your first aid kit and administered at the first sign of reaction to a bite or sting. Check with your vet concerning rate and dosage, which is based on your dog’s weight. As always, get your dog to a vet as soon as possible especially if his condition does not improve.
Knowledge is the key in a medical emergency. Knowing what to do and reacting quickly could help you
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Encounters with wild animals are always a concern for gun dogs while hunting. Rabies and Distemper along with other communicable diseases can be a serious threat also. Again, yearly vaccinations and boosters should always be kept up-to-date. Avoiding such encounters is not always possible, if you believe your dog may have encountered a wild animal, inspect him thoroughly. Check for indications such as scratches or bite marks, also look for signs of swelling and bruising. If you find a wound, thoroughly clean it with an antiseptic and get the dog to a veterinarian’s office.
Encounters with porcupines require special handling of your dog, as removing spines can be very painful. Dogs should be muzzled, again an impromptu muzzle will do. Electrical tape, a bootlace or dog lead will all work quite well in the field. Have one person either hold the dog still or lay on top of the animal. A pair of needle nose pliers’ works very well at removing porcupine spines. Grasp the spine at its base and quickly pull it out, again clean the wound and treat it with a good antiseptic.
Snakebites can also be a possibility, especially during warm weather. Again, look for swelling and an allergic reaction. Treat with Benadryl and get the dog to a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Usually, if treated within two hours, the dog will have a very good chance of recovering from a poisonous bite.
Gunshot wounds are always a possibility while afield. A novice or over anxious hunter or an accidental discharge can end a hunting career. Because of the vast latitude of injury possibilities from being “stung” by a pellet to traumatic organ damage, space restraints prevent a complete discussion of the treatment of each type of wound. However, your first aid training will provide you with enough basic information from how to treat for and prevent shock, to preventing blood loss and maintaining vital signs that your partner will have a very good chance of recovery.
End each outing, training session or hunt by brushing your dog and inspecting his body for cuts, abrasions, thorns and ticks. Pay attention to his attitude, is he stiff and sore? Is he favoring a limb? Watch for the warning signs and provide the appropriate treatment required. Schedule regular visits to your veterinarian and make sure all of his vaccinations are current. Preventative health care is an important aspect of keeping your dog performing at his best and it is also part of the responsibility of owning a dog.
Basic field care for gun dogs does not begin in the field; it begins by knowing your dog. With proper care and maintenance prior to the hunting season, before each hunt, while afield and after each hunt you will ensure that your dog is capable of performing at his optimal level. Injuries and illnesses will be kept to a minimum and you will be able to read your dog much better. These preventative measures will also enable you to notice minor abnormalities before they become major problems and extend your time in the field.