Skip to main content

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.


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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 10

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 10

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 10

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 7

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 7

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 7

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 4

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 4

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 4

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 14

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 14

Gun Dog: Shed Antler Training 14

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

A step-by-step analysis on what to expect from your dogYour Pup's First Year Puppies

Your Pup's First Year

Bob West - September 23, 2010

A step-by-step analysis on what to expect from your dog

Kyle Wintersteen does a dog breed comparison on Chessies and Labs. See how these two breeds stack up.Dog Breed Comparison: Chessies vs. Labs Profiles

Dog Breed Comparison: Chessies vs. Labs

Kyle Wintersteen

Kyle Wintersteen does a dog breed comparison on Chessies and Labs. See how these two breeds...

Training a flushing dog with live birds requires you to first build a solid foundation.Train Flushing Dogs with Live Birds Training

Train Flushing Dogs with Live Birds

Jerry Cacchio

Training a flushing dog with live birds requires you to first build a solid foundation.

The newest member of Fabarm's XLR5 family is a standout in the gas-gun market.Shotgun Report: Fabarm XLR5 Composite Hunter Shotguns & Ammo

Shotgun Report: Fabarm XLR5 Composite Hunter

Brad Fitzpatrick - August 14, 2020

The newest member of Fabarm's XLR5 family is a standout in the gas-gun market.

See More Trending Articles

More Health & Nutrition

The back half of the season requires special safety considerations.How to Keep Your Gun Dog Safe in Cold Weather Health & Nutrition

How to Keep Your Gun Dog Safe in Cold Weather

Tom Dokken

The back half of the season requires special safety considerations.

A rattlesnake vaccine offers protection, but more importantly is an extra step to ease your mind. The Rattlesnake Vaccine for Gun Dogs 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. Maximizing Dog Endurance for Hunting & Competition 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...

A World Champion sled-dog racer and veterinarian discusses how vital, and fun, conditioning is for your bird dog. Conditioning Tips from a Sled-Dog Champion Health & Nutrition

Conditioning Tips from a Sled-Dog Champion

Dave Carty

A World Champion sled-dog racer and veterinarian discusses how vital, and fun, conditioning is...

See More Health & Nutrition

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Gun Dog App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

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

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Gun Dog subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now