Dear Writing Huntress,
It’s upland season here and we’re taking our new puppy, Ace, with us for his first hunt! We’ve been training him and he’s awesome at pointing and retrieving but I’m scared he’s going to get hurt and we won’t know what to do. Do you have any experience with dog injuries? Do you have any advice for what to bring on this hunt?
First Aid in Fargo
Dear First Aid,
Fortunately for you, I’ve had extensive experience with dog injuries while afield. Unfortunately, they involved a porcupine, skunk and barbed wire, but they each taught me different lessons about dog injuries.
One morning, Athena, our frozen slough rescue, and Titus, my SPCA boy, squared off with what appeared to be a bleached cactus outside our then unfenced yard.
After pulling Titus from the pincushion, I became hysterical. Quills and blood covered every inch of his face, mouth and neck. Following my lead, he began to hyperventilate, until I realized my screaming wasn’t helping him through his ordeal.
A 40-minute drive on snowy, icy, dirt roads ensued, followed by a 3-hour, 600-quil removal procedure by our veteranarian.
That day, I learned to be calm and as clear-headed as possible during an injury situation.
Months later, I awoke with the news that my newly-in-ground fence trained canines had cornered a skunk, that of course, sprayed them.
Of course, once again Athena and Titus – the duo killers of everything near/in/parallel to our yard, participated in the Great Skunk Chase.
Old wives’ tales suggest tomato baths as the best remedy, but in reality, it doesn’t work well at all. After their Italian shower, the pair spent the night quarantined until we found a wash that included dish soap, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.
That night, I learned skunk stink lasts far past the tomato bath.
A few years ago, Oscar, my hubby’s beloved pit bull, and Titus went for an unaccompanied hike. They returned, bloody to their paws. Oscar fared worst of all. He had battled barbed wire, and lost. We cleaned his wounds, checked on his rabies’ vaccination and kept an eye on his cuts.
That afternoon, I learned the qualities of cleaning, waiting and preparing are virtues of canine first aid.
After these instances, I did my own research to be ready for injuries afield. SportDOG brand, besides offering stellar blind bags, In-Ground Fence systems and training collars, also provides hunting and training tips on their website.
According to the site, there are a few ways in order to prepare for injuries afield:
1) Just keep flushing
Store a squeeze bottle or spray bottle of sterile, saline solution in order to clean wounds. SportDOG advises that to keep wounds flushed, being aggressive with cleaning is a good way to go.
2) Create a barrier
Invest in a couple of tubes of gel (the site advises the use of EMT gel or Collasate as healing, physical barriers) to apply when a barrier is needed between a wound and dirt, skin or fur.
3) Bandages are handy, but not always for canine injuries
SportDOG’s experts write that few canine wounds require bandaging. In obvious situations, such as serious, arterial bleeding, immediate coverage with a blood-stopping pressure bandage is necessary.
For non-bleeding wounds, a simple bandage can be utilized after you’ve used protective gel. Vetwrap can be used in this instance because it is easy to use, sticks only to itself and is easy to remove once you’ve arrived at the vet.
SportDOG strongly urges hunters to avoid wrapping any area too tightly or placing tape directly onto an open wound.
4) Be aware of time
As I learned, and SportDOG advises, wasting time crying, screaming or doing anything I did post-porcupine attack, drains valuable moments that could be spent focusing on the problem, dispensing first aid and rapidly transporting your dog to the nearest veterinary facility.
It’s also important to be aware of how your dog is acting while you’re assessing or dealing with his injuries. If your dog appears overly stressed, be sure to calm yourself down and him as well. As I learned, your dog will be calm about the situation if you are.
First Aid, I hope you and Ace have an amazing season together! Be sure to check SportDOG’s website for additional information concerning hunting dog injuries and their top-notch product line.
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