Itâ€™s getting cold out there, and that means ponds, marshes and rivers are freezing over. Consider the consequences of sending your gun dog out onto the ice. If thereâ€™s any sense of danger, pass on the retrieve. You may lose a duck, but thatâ€™s better than losing a great companion.
Sometimes, itâ€™s unavoidable that a bird falls over a frosted-over patch of water. Well, in that case, I suggest purchasing a protective vest. You can buy one for less than $50. They keep internal body temperature up and can prevent injury. A shard of ice or an underwater snag can pierce the toughest of retrievers.
Also, get your dog familiar with icy conditions before a hunt. Start off in shallow water and gradually send him on short retrieves until you think heâ€™s ready for the real deal. And please, donâ€™t send a puppy out into the frozen beyond. His coat is not yet thick enough for such things.
Keep a keen eye on your dog during these cold-weather hunts. The initial stages of hypothermia include: violent shivering, becoming lethargic and difficulty breathing. Should your dogâ€™s core temperature drop below 97, or suffer from severe lack of coordination, itâ€™s time to take drastic measures. Collapsing and comas are just around the corner, so get that pooch warmed up with blankets, coats, hot pads and even a hair dryer. Do whatever you can to get his temp back up to 101.5, and contact the vet ASAP.