Aug 3, 2012, 1:02 AM EDT
By Jerry Sather
This week’s post will be short and to the point. It has little to do with training techniques or drills, but everything to do with having your dog – no matter what the type or breed – performing at its peak for the hunting seasons that are just a few weeks away from starting.
Your mission for the week ahead is to dig out your dog’s medical records and make sure everything is up to date with the vet. This is one area of the working partnership with your dog in which he or she relies entirely on you. Make sure vaccinations and medications are up to date.
Your vet’s office and local dog licensing bureau will generally do a good job of keeping you informed about the dog’s schedule for basic vaccinations like rabies, distemper, and the like. But when it comes to some of the optional inoculations that are important for hunting dogs and traveling dogs, you may need to keep closer track of them yourself. Hunting dogs should be vaccinated against Lyme Disease. Dogs that travel and are exposed to other dogs even in the field or hunting camps should be vaccinated against kennel cough, too. Discuss with your vet any other recommended vaccinations for hunting and traveling dogs.
Make sure you have an adequate supply of ongoing medications like whatever you use to prevent heart worms as well as flea and tick preventatives. If it has been a while since your dog had a heart worm check and tests for anaplasmosis or other tick and mosquito borne diseases, pre-hunting season is a good time to have these run again.
While you’re talking to the vet make sure the official vaccination and health records you have on your dog are completely up to date and signed. Some states require you carry these in the field with you (particularly for non-resident hunters/dogs) and present proof of vaccination on demand to any game warden – just like a hunting license. Transporting dogs across the border into Canada also requires proof of vaccination and in some cases an official health certificate. If you have a Canadian trip planned this fall, check out the requirements ahead of time to avoid potentially long delays and unnecessary expense at the border crossing.
Finally, check and resupply the contents of your canine first aid kit. Talk to the vet about his or her recommendations of what you should have with you in the field at all times. They’ll often recommend really versatile and useful items you probably wouldn’t have thought of including, but will find priceless when a first aid situation comes about. Vets can sometimes also provide free samples of things like antibiotic ointments, etc.
This preseason health review for your dog is critically important both to the dog’s comfort and safety as well as to maximizing its performance all season long. Remember, it’s all up to you!