September is an eagerly anticipated month for hunters and their working dogs, as it marks the beginning of various game species’ hunting seasons. In addition, as fall weather arrives, pets and their owners revel in taking a brisk walk outdoors while rejoicing in the cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and fresh air. However, when dogs and hunters are in the same wooded area at the same time, an accident is always a possibility. 

Whether you enjoy overseeing your Labrador retrieve doves and geese, or watching them sniff through the brush, early fall is a wonderful time to head outdoors. Follow our Premier Pet Hospital team’s safety tips to help ensure you and your four-legged friend remain safe and healthy during hunting season.

#1: Outfit your dog in bright colors

The color hunter orange (i.e., blaze orange) was named so for an extremely good reason. This blinding color is the ideal shade for providing maximum visibility to those wearing it while out in thick brush and wooded areas. Rather than wearing earth tones that blend in with grasses and trees—and can cause a hunter to mistake you or your pet for a wild animal—outfit yourself and your canine companion or hunting dog in blaze orange.

Outfit your dog in a highly visible vest, paired with an orange collar. If your dog will be ranging far afield while hunting and retrieving, consider using a GPS locating collar to ensure you can locate your pooch if they wander too far away.

#2: Pack a first aid kit for your dog

Injuries can easily occur as your dog darts through nearly impenetrable thorn bushes, sniffs around beehives and wasp nests, or runs afoul and right into a large stick or low tree branch. If an accident befalls your dog, you will need to administer first aid to stabilize their condition until you can reach the nearest emergency veterinary hospital. Before heading out on a hunting trip, double-check that your first aid kit has everything you need to provide care to your pet. To learn what essential first aid kit supplies you need for your dog and how to administer first aid in a variety of emergencies, follow the tips the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) provides in its guide.

#3: Watch for noise-aversion signs in your dog 

Many pets are scared of loud noises, and the consequences can be disastrous if you just discover your furry pal is terrified of gunshots when you’re outside during hunting season. Before your first trip out when gunshot sounds will be cracking, test your canine companion’s reaction to recorded gunshot sounds. Start with the volume low, then gradually increase it as long as your dog remains unconcerned. If your dog exhibits heavy panting, pacing, trembling, or clingy behavior, they have a noise aversion to gunshots. Some dogs may attempt to run away or hide when they hear such unexpected booming sounds. You can help remedy your four-legged friend’s condition through a multimodal management program that combines anti-anxiety products and behavioral modification methods.

#4: Protect your dog from infectious diseases

Whether your dog manages to retrieve wild game or sniffs out a discarded carcass, they have the potential to contract many diseases and parasites. Protect your four-legged friend as much as possible by keeping them current on vaccines that are recommended for pets who spend time outdoors and around wildlife. In addition, ensure you administer their year-round parasite prevention. Not only do prevention medications protect your dog from fleas, ticks, and various pathogens (e.g., leptospirosis, rabies), they keep your canine companion healthy, and help ensure they cannot transmit diseases to you.

#5: Protect your dog from hazardous plants

Foxtails (i.e., grass awns) are some of the most hazardous plants your dog may run across while outdoors. These insidious grasses can penetrate your pooch’s skin and work their way into major organs, requiring surgical removal. Running across a cactus can also be incredibly painful for your pooch, and the problem can be exacerbated if your pet rubs their face or tries to chew the spines. 

When hunting or exploring the great outdoors, provide your dog with protection from prickly plants by outfitting them in sturdy booties, protective goggles, and a mesh face mask. Upon returning home, carefully check your canine companion’s ears, paws, and abdomen—and every spot in between—for embedded foxtails, cactus spines, thorns, or sticks.

Keep your four-legged friend safe on your outdoor adventures during hunting season by updating their preventive care. Call to have your dog’s parasite preventive prescription refilled and schedule their vaccination appointment with our Premier Pet Hospital team.