How to Protect Your Gun Dog in Cold Weather Hunting

There's an old saying: a dog can take a ton of cold but only an ounce of heat. That's true, but too much cold can still cause your dog considerable discomfort, and in extreme cases, even death.

Hypothermia is perhaps the most dangerous cold-weather ailment a dog will ever face. Even tough, cold-weather animals like Labs and Chesapeakes can fall prey to hypothermia. Signs are extreme shivering, seeming disoriented and continually trying to nest by burrowing into the grass or brush.

Hypothermia is a danger primarily when a dog is cold and wet. Cold, dry weather alone is rarely enough to trigger a hypothermic reaction, especially if the dog is running. But add water, either in the form of rain, a river the dog has plunged into or something similar, and a dog can get hypothermic in a hurry.

If you suspect your dog is getting hypothermic, warm him up any way you can. Towel him dry, put him under the heater of your car, but get him out of the elements. When treated quickly, most dogs recover with no problems, but it never hurts to have a vet check-up post hunt.


For retrievers and pointing breeds alike that will be exposed to cold, wet conditions, a great preventative is a neoprene dog vest. Even thin-coated dogs can handle cold weather wearing a neoprene vest.


Another common problem is ice balls that gather between a dog's feet. There's no way to completely cure the problem, but short-haired breeds are much less susceptible to it. On long-haired breeds, trimming the hair between their toes will help a little, but won't eliminate it.


The only real preventative is to boot your dog. There are dozens of styles of dog boots to choose from.

Finally, dogs that hunt in cold weather need increased calories to keep them warm, so you can up their food intake by as much as 50 percent, depending upon how much they're working. It's best to feed them after the hunt, not before it, however.

Also, make sure they drink water while they're exercising. In cold weather, a hard-working dog can easily dehydrate, so carry water with you and make him take a drink from time to time. He may not act thirsty, but he'll run better and last longer if he's properly hydrated.


Recommended for You

Take advantage of these several little drills each day to keep the bad habits away. Training

Overlooked Training Opportunities for Retrievers

Tom Dokken

Take advantage of these several little drills each day to keep the bad habits away.

Deal with this annoying problem by practicing these 3 steps. Training

How To Stop Your Gun Dog's Barking

Dave Carty

Deal with this annoying problem by practicing these 3 steps.

It's important to build enthusiasm as not rush the process. Training

How to Introduce a Puppy to Gunfire

Bob West

It's important to build enthusiasm as not rush the process.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 3

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 3

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 3

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 10

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 10

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 10

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 14

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 14

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 14

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Profiles

Gun Dog Breeds: Standard Poodle

James Spencer

"Poodles hunt? You gotta be kiddin' me!"

Training a hunting puppy is no easy task. Training

First Year Tips for Training a Hunting Puppy

Bob West

Training a hunting puppy is no easy task.

Some shotguns not only look good, they're also built for shattering those orange disks that can give us so much grief. Shotguns & Ammo

10 Great Shotguns for Sporting Clays

David Hart

Some shotguns not only look good, they're also built for shattering those orange disks that...

See More Stories

More Health & Nutrition

Planning for hunting season should begin with a visit to your veterinarian. Ask for a basic health Health & Nutrition

10 Ways To Keep Your Dog Healthy This Hunting Season

Bob West - July 05, 2017

Planning for hunting season should begin with a visit to your veterinarian. Ask for a basic...

A rattlesnake vaccine offers protection, but more importantly is an extra step to ease your mind. Health & Nutrition

The Rattlesnake Vaccine for Gun Dogs

Lance Nixon

A rattlesnake vaccine offers protection, but more importantly is an extra step to ease your...

When your dog is working their tail off, it's up to you to help your dog recover as quickly as possible. Health & Nutrition

Maximizing Dog Endurance for Hunting & Competition

Bob West

When your dog is working their tail off, it's up to you to help your dog recover as quickly as...

See More Health & Nutrition

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.