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Emergency Veterinary Care Considerations While Travelling with Your Dog

Whether you're on the road for fun, trialing, or hunting, here are some things to think about should you need to visit an out-of-town veterinarian.

Emergency Veterinary Care Considerations While Travelling with Your Dog

It’s important to do your research and homework before time is of the essence during an emergency. (Photo By: Seth Bynum, DVM)

If you haven’t already, there may come a time when you load up the dogs and hit the road to travel a little further away from home. Perhaps you’re engrossed in the competition side of running dogs in trials or hunt tests, or maybe you’re looking to point your vehicle south and chase the wild bird seasons into the winter months. Be it a weekend wingshooting wandering or an extended vacation canvasing the bird-rich covers of the wide-open west, the potential for your dog to become injured or ill while travelling is ever-present. Whether you’ll be planted at a destination during your stay or nomadically exploring, it will pay off to have a plan in place, should the unthinkable happen.

To help dog owners understand and prepare for this part of their journey, we connected with Seth Bynum, DVM, an avid bird hunter, dog owner, and sporting dog veterinarian, to outline some of the most important things to think about during this preventative process.

dog with a bloody injury to its leg
Travelling to parts unknown with our faithful four-legged companions can be a big adventure, and with it comes a little extra preparedness should they become injured and require veterinary intervention. (Photo By: Seth Bynum, DVM)

Emergency Veterinary Care Considerations While Travelling with Your Dog

GUN DOG: If a gun dog owner is travelling to another state or going on a road trip hunt with their dog(s), what are some of the things they should consider while planning their trip in regard to finding veterinarians while on the road?

Seth Bynum, DVM: I always recommend researching the veterinary clinics in the vicinity of where you plan to hunt before your trip. It’s a good idea to store the number of a few clinics in your phone in case the cell service is limited during an emergency. Check with each clinic regarding their emergency policy, associated fees, and the hours they are available. If there is an emergency phone line, have that number handy and stored in your phone as well.


Before Hitting the Road

GD: Are there any specific things sporting dog owners should do before leaving home or any items they should bring along that a veterinarian would want to see?

SB: It’s always a good idea to have documentation of current vaccinations and any medical history related to the issue you’re dealing with. Photos of records will suffice. You’ll probably get some pressure to administer these vaccines if you can’t provide any documentation they were done in a timely manner, especially rabies. If your dog has a concurrent medical issue and the emergency is a condition of that issue, the more medical notes that the emergency veterinarian can review, the better. Take photographs of the labels and the individual pills of all medication your dog might be on, and feel free to share those images if requested.

GD: Will any pet vet do, or should travelling hunters look for one that is familiar with sporting dog breeds?

SB: When you’re travelling in unfamiliar territory, you take what you can get in terms of veterinary care. In those stressful moments, you should feel fortunate if one is available in the area you decided to hunt, especially in more remote areas. Since veterinarians that work in these parts of the country are used to emergency calls (it’s an unavoidable way of life for a rural vet), they are already familiar with the most common types of injuries seen in dogs of all breeds, sporting dogs included. A veterinarian that is familiar with sporting breeds is a bonus, but not a necessity for receiving quality medical care in an emergency.

male veterinarian caring for a german shorthaired pointer at a vet clinic
In most remote regions, bird hunters should be grateful for any veterinary care they can come by during an emergency. (Photo By: Seth Bynum, DVM)

During an Emergency

GD: Is there anything else hunters should prepare themselves for during an on-the-road vet visit?

SB: To be honest, most medical issues encountered in sporting breeds while travelling are not unique to the sporting breeds themselves. While there are subtle differences in physiology between dog breeds, for the most part, dogs are dogs, and a veterinarian with very little experience in hunting breeds will most likely be able to provide quality care in the event you need it. While uncommon, I have seen instances where dogs were allowed to get exceptionally lean during multi-day hunts and were thus subjected to some scrutiny around the dogs‘ husbandry when they came in for medical care. On occasion, a veterinarian may take issue with a dog that’s allowed to drop too much weight while on the road. I’ve consulted on cases like these, and they’re frustrating for owner and veterinarian.

GD: Any last bits of advice for hunters seeking veterinary care while travelling?

SB: Remember that you represent hunting and bird hunters when you enter a veterinary clinic and ask for services after hours or during an emergency. While there a few exceptions, the vast majority of veterinarians are good and well-intentioned people who sincerely want to help animals. If we were in it just for the money, I can assure you all of us would’ve chosen a far more lucrative profession. Be grateful that the vet was willing to interrupt their weekend or evening at home to help you in your time of need.

two german shorthaired pointers on tailgate with truck camper
Having all necessary details and a plan in place prior to an emergency will give you a little extra peace of mind when venturing far away from home with your dogs. (Photo By: Seth Bynum, DVM)


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