5 Ways to Kill Your Hunting Dog
These are few common canine hazards, if not your best friend could find himself in a dangerous situation.
Working dogs are literally on the front lines most of every bird hunts. The safe return of your canine companion determine a successful hunt if you bagged any birds or not. Spend too long time behind your dog, and you’ll eventually have to steer him around or maybe through danger. Here are some common—and uncommon—ways you might put your dog in danger.
- SEND HIM INTO AN ICY RIVER
Most waterfowling north of the Mason-Dixon Line takes place in frosty weather. Lakes can be wholly or partly frozen, and rivers can run fast with freezing water. Keeping your dog out of trouble in freezing water starts with restraint: Do not shoot birds if they might drop in strong, swirling current. If you must send your dog into swift water, search a downstream extrication spot, a place with slow water and low banks. And if the river is rimmed with ledge ice, do not send your dog in at all. he can easily get sucked under the ledge by the current.
Be careful about winter’s changing conditions. I lost my Lab last year when she broke through the ice of a slough that we had hunted together many times. The ice was thinner than I thought and the water in the slough was unseasonably deep. When i broken the ice to reach her, she had drowned.
Prevention: Be aware of changing conditions, and stay away both thin ice and swift water.
- IMPALE HIM ON A SPEAR
I was hunting greenheads with a friend and his hard-charging Lab in Idaho’s Snake River. We were set up on a cutbank, and his dog had made a lot of retrieves by vaulting off the bank. Taylor dropped a mallard, and Buddy leapt off the bank—right onto the submerged end of an ankle-sized willow tree that had been gnawed by beavers. Buddy was impaled by the tip, and when we pulled him off, he was dead from blood loss and critical wound.
Prevention: Scout not only water exits for retrievers, but also water entries, and make sure there are no underwater hazards.
- LET HIM SNIFF GRASS
Is grass really a danger to dogs? Yes, if that grass has a sharp seed with barbed hairs that point away from the seed’s spear point. Seeds with these Particular traits,are called awns, and they are produced by familiar species: cheatgrass, foxtail barley, and wild rye. A dog can sniff the seed heads, which work into the lungs and then create thoracic cavity trauma that can lead to fluid in the lungs. If untreated, the internal injury can lead to pneumonia.
Prevention: Know the species that contain awns, and don’t training and hunting in CRP fields with ripening awns. Take your dog to a vet if he exhibits a sustained low-grade fever and hard breathing.
- OVERFEED HIM
One of the gospel of in-season dog care is to feed your dog following the hunt, not before. One reason for that mandate is to prevent flatulent, which can lead to gastric torsion. In this case, sometimes called “gut twist,” a dog’s stomach can rotate inside the abdomen, causing gas fill up in the stomach, blocking food passage in the esophagus, and finally leading to a catastrophic drop in blood pressure and death, usually within an hour if untreated. Causes of gastric torsion vary, from consumption of fermenting food to too much hard work shortly after feeding.
Prevention: Don’t feed your dog before a hard hunt or training session.
- OVERHUNT HIM
I was hunting sharptail grouse with my friends on the sprawling grasslands of the Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Montana. Three of us had young, brisk dogs, and two had older, arthritic dogs. Larry tried to hunt his old dog with the young dogs, sending him across large fields of open grass with shadeless. We were about 2 miles from the truck when Larry’s Lab collapsed from exhaustion and heat stroke. We took turns carrying the 85-pound Lab back to the pickup.
Prevention: Prepare your dog for the season, and know his limitations. Carry plenty of water and take frequent rest breaks.