By Doug Leier
When it comes to seeing, hearing and understanding the issues hunters encounter firsthand, North Dakota Game and Fish Department game wardens are reliable sources for issues such as hunter safety. Their guidance provide hunters with points of emphasis to keep themselves and other hunters safe.
The same goes for one of the most obvious companions of the hunter. The hunting dog.
Game warden Josh Hedstrom knows a lot about both hunter safety and recently shared key points to keep in mind when hunting with dogs.
● Before heading out, make sure your canine is current on vaccinations and tick control treatment. If available, take a course on canine first aid.
● Familiarize yourself with signs of hyperthermia (heat stroke) – excessive panting, drooling, trouble breathing, disorientation, vomiting, bright red tongue, or increased heart rate. At the first sign of heat stroke, remember to lower your dog’s body temperature gradually. Get your dog to shade and use cool water to lower its body temp. Give it cool water to drink slowly so it does not vomit.
● If your dog is bitten by a snake, try to keep it calm. It is important to prevent an elevated heart rate, so you will need to carry the dog instead of letting it walk. Try to keep the wound below heart level. Keep in mind when a dog is hurt their behavior can be unpredictable. Carry Benadryl and know in advance the correct dosage for your dog’s
size. Do not apply a tourniquet or cut the wound. Do not apply ice or any topical medications. Get your canine partner to a vet immediately.
● If your dog sustains a cut and is bleeding, apply pressure to stop the bleeding and check for debris that may be stuck in the wound. Minor cuts may only require washing out and bandaging the wound; however, deep cuts or punctures should be checked out by a veterinarian.
● Another unfortunate but common occurrence is being sprayed by a skunk. First, rinse your canine’s eyes with cool water. Give it a bath as soon as possible to remove the oil from the coat. There are numerous recipes online to get rid of the skunk smell, but I recommend talking to the veterinarian in your area to be sure it’s safe for your dog.
● Probably one of the toughest things to watch your dog go through is a run-in with a porcupine. Try to keep your canine from rubbing the affected area against anything. Get your dog into the vet. They will be able to better assess the number and location of quills and whether some have broken off. If quills are around the eye, that could cause serious damage. Quills near the mouth can be difficult to locate and remove. If you are comfortable attempting to remove the quills, keep your dog relaxed as possible by speaking softly. Firmly grasp a quill near the base with a flat pliers and quickly pull out in a straight line. Clean wounds with disinfectant or antiseptic.
● Before you head for home, check your dog for any cuts, wounds, thorns or ticks. Check the eyes for scratches. Observe for any unusual behavior – limping, whimpering, unusual aggression. These could be signs of a sprain or broken bone.
● Best practice is to be prepared …not just with your gear. Always have a first aid kit with you because you never know what could happen. Many first aid kits are available online. Do your research and talk to your vet.