Regardless of one’s belief of Hunting season, it is coming upon us and ensuring our pets safety is essential especially for dogs. Whether the dog is bred to hunt or is just a companion house dog hunting season can be very dangerous.
Pet owners should take appropriate safety measure to prevent injuries and deaths during hunting season. Dogs can be injured running through fields, caught in snares and leg traps, or even mistaken for game.
Non hunting dogs should be kept on a leash, tied out, or in a fenced-in yard and not left unattended during hunting season. This will prevent the dog from roaming far away from home and possibly conflicting with hunters. Some hunters are known to climb over fences and hunt on private property, though the majority of hunters abide by the laws. Hunting is usually allowed during the daytime only, so that would be the most dangerous time of the day yet avoid letting your pets roam at night. Become familiar with the hunting laws as well so that a clear understanding on what hunter are expected to follow is obtained.
Consider adding a bright-colored vest, sweater, bandana or a reflective and orange gear to the dog’s collar especially while in the woods. A bell can be easily added to the pet’s collar that would allow it to be identified. Make sure pets are current on vaccination, tags on collars, or microchip data.
The majority of hunting dogs are kept as family pets and can be found lounging around the house, on the sofa or bed or even resting in a kennel. Keeping these dogs health in top condition all year round will allow them to effectively work during hunting season. Actually keeping all dog’s health in top condition is essential to a long life. Regularly exercised dogs will prevent stiffness, sores or injuries.
Have a veterinarian exam hunting dogs prior to the beginning of hunting season and make sure its vaccinations are up to date. As part of its health regiment, ensure that flea and tick preventative is used to avoid any infestation, these parasites can cause various illnesses. Feed dogs a higher quality of food to encourage high performance and better health and don’t allow dogs to become over or under weight.
Hunting dogs should also have a reflective orange collar and bright organize vest. This will allow the dog to be safe and alert other hunters of their presence. Collars and vest should be made of materials to will prevent burrs, foxtail, etc from sticking to the collar or dog. Also consider adding a bell so that you know where the dog is. There are bells that make different sounds that can be used if there is more than one hunting dog. If the dog tends to roam attach him to a brightly colored long lead to keep the dog nearby and safe and use a lead whenever the dog needs walk near a busy road.
When working the dog in the field keep the dog’s health and safety a priority. Bring plenty of fresh clean water and snacks for the dog too and stop periodically to allow the dog to rest and drink so that the dog can cool off. Hunting dogs can create a lot of body heat when working, even if it is a cool day. Try to hunt during the cooler parts of the day for short durations. Overheated dogs are a common problem.
Before setting out on the hunt with the dog know the area to avoid injuries including knowing where barbed wires, porcupines, skunks or rattlesnakes are. Try to avoid these at all times. If the dog does interact with these be prepared by brining a first aid kit for you and your pet and have a way to get extracted from the hunting grounds immediately if needed.
Dogs can be kept safe during hunting season by preparing for the season. Keeping your dog healthy and protected and being prepared, you and the dog can make it through another hunting season safely.
Joyce Rheal is Emergency Planning Committee chairwoman of the National Association Professional Pet Sitters and with Pets-life. Joyce is also a federally certified for FEMA’s “Animals in Disasters” program, and a certified pet care consultant based in Southern Illinois.