As summer fades away, hunting seasons for many game species begin to ramp up, which can pose a danger to you and your dog as you wander through the woods. However, with a little prep work, you can keep your four-legged friend out of trouble and safely by your side.
Whether your pooch is a champion sofa surfer or a prize-winning pointer, here are seven ways to keep them safe during hunting season.
#1: Maximize your dog’s visibility
A patch of your dog’s brown fur could be mistaken for a deer moving through thick brush. Although ethical hunters won’t take a shot unless they are 100% certain of their target, make it easy for hunters and hikers alike to identify your pooch as a friendly canine by boosting your furry friend’s visibility with blaze orange. Also called hunter orange because of its use by hunters, this brilliant shade provides maximum visibility among shadowy wooded areas and overgrown fields.
Ensure your dog is easy to spot with a blaze orange vest and collar, and consider adding a bell to their collar. The added auditory marker can help dissuade hunters from thinking your pet is a wild animal.
#2: Double up on identification
Ideally, your hunting dog should be well-trained to return when you call before you let them off leash, but overzealous pups can take off. Pet dogs also can slip out of collars or tug leashes out of hands in pursuit of a squirrel or larger game.
If you become separated from your dog, you want to maximize your chances for a happy reunion. Double up on identification by updating collar ID tags if necessary and scheduling a microchipping appointment. A microchip is the only form of permanent identification for pets, and can mean the difference between being reunited with your dog or not.
#3: Watch for noise aversion signs
A gunshot is a startling sound that can send your dog into a panic and ultimately result in a missing pet. When out with your dog—whether walking or hunting—ensure they are comfortable with loud, unsettling sounds. Watch for noise aversion signs in other situations, such as around heavy traffic, construction work, or vacuum cleaners. If your dog trembles, pants and drools excessively, and clings to your legs or darts away to hide, they are best kept indoors away from potentially triggering sounds.
#4: Know potential dangers in your area
When out exploring your local fields and wooded areas, understand what dangers may be present. For example, find out what hunting season is in progress, what weapon can be used, and what zone you are in. For example, archery deer season poses less of a threat than shotgun season, as bows typically have a much shorter range than guns, although close-range accidents still can occur.
In addition to the threats posed by hunters and weapons, wild animals also can be dangerous. Wildlife can become highly defensive and protective of their territory and mates, while prey animals can attack if you come too close to their meal. Before heading out into nature, learn what potential hazards exist and understand how to avoid them.
#5: Protect your dog from environmental hazards
As your dog sprints through thick vegetation, they could gallop straight into a stick, a barbed wire fence, or other environmental hazard. Protect your dog against these threats by outfitting them in gear that shields their face, abdomen, chest, and paws. Vests, face masks, and booties designed for sporting or hunting dogs work well for environmental protection.
#6: Keep your dog away from carcasses
Whether your tracking dog is by your side as you field-dress a deer or your pet pooch stumbles across a rotting carcass, it’s best to keep them away. If your dog eats any part of the carcass, they are at risk for contracting a variety of bacteria, viruses, or parasites, some of which could be transmitted to you.
#7: Schedule a preventive care appointment with your veterinarian
As your dog roams through fields and woods, they can be exposed to a multitude of pathogens and parasites that can cause serious illness. The best way to protect your furry pal is through regular preventive care provided by your Caring Hands Animal Hospital veterinarian. Preventive care consists of lifestyle-appropriate vaccinations and parasite prevention, along with early detection screening tests to ensure your pet is healthy.
Ensure your dog is in great health for hunting season and protected against any infectious threat they may encounter. Give our Caring Hands Animal Hospital team a call to schedule your pet’s appointment.