By Montana Grant

Posted: September 25, 2022

Bird dogs are a hunter’s best friend. It is amazing how much ground that they can cover during a day’s hunt. For every 1 mile that a hunter treks, the dog covers 3. During those miles, there can be many accidents waiting to happen. 

In Montana, Rattlesnakes live where the birds do. A bite can be devastating for a dog. Head and face bites are the worst, but a body or leg bite can also kill. Many hunters snake train their dogs. This helps but accidents do happen.

An encounter with a skunk could be smelly and be an issue with rabies. Porcupines can create prickly challenges. Their spines can blind a dog and make life very uncomfortable as well. Barbwire fences are never good news for dogs. Trappers can also leave traps in places where dogs and bird’s travel. Learn how to release a trap. Pulling feet out of thick mud can tear ligaments or dislocate bones. Encounters with coyotes or wild dogs, and cats, can cause extreme challenges. Torn toenails, briar cuts, sprains, and broken bones are all unwanted but can ruin a hunt.

A buddy and I took his dog to a pheasant spot that we called the Pig Farm. This Amish farm had everything they ever owned stored on their land. Along a stream was all kinds of junk and trash. Pheasants were always hanging out in this spot. His GSP soon went on point and in a few moments, we had limited out. When his dog came back with a rooster in her mouth, we noticed bloody footprints. She had cut her pad on something sharp and was bleeding badly.

This was before cellphones, and we were in the middle of nowhere. I wrapped the foot and we tried to find a vet. No luck. Our next option was an hour drive home to where we knew a vet could be found. Despite the bandages, the dog was bleeding. We barely made it to the vet for stitches.

Familiarize yourself with nearby vets. Thank goodness for Google and other technology. If you are remote, you may not get service. Carry a dog first aid kit. This needs to include bandages, and a basic assortment of meds and helpful accessories. Ask your vet for ideas. They also sell custom dog first aid gear. 

Injuries that involve tendons, bones, and bruises can be less life threatening. Snakebites, cuts, tears, gunshot wounds, and other severe trauma need more immediate attention. Anticipate these issues and educate yourself just in case.

YouTube videos and other resources offer great advice and instruction. One of my dogs bit an extension cord and was electrocuted. Her heart stopped and she was in trouble. I remembered seeing a picture of how to give dogs CPR. I mimicked the picture and within several compressions and breathing into her muzzle, I felt the heart stop. This pup grew to become a great bird dog.

Plan to keep your dog safe and healthy!

Montana Grant

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