Freezing winter conditions are harsh on sportsman, but it is hard on their hunting companions as well. Here are some ideas on how to ensure that your gun dog is safe whenever the mercury takes a nose dive.
Any dog's body temperature being below one hundred degrees comprises hypothermia. Signs and symptoms of mild hypothermia (ninety to ninety-nine degrees) include panting and raised hair. At the moderate level (eighty-two to ninety degrees), breathing becomes short and the dog gets disoriented. If severe (eighty-two degrees or below), your dog will be unresponsive and at risk of dying.
Short-coated canines and smaller dogs are in greater danger, as are very young dogs, older dogs, and dogs with preexisting ailments. The most hazardous mixture of all is cold and wet. This is when an insulated vest is indispensable (notice "Vested Interests," below). Also consider giving your dog frequent breaks throughout hunts and giving small, high-energy snacks.
Should you notice any indications of hypothermia, quit hunting and get the dog right into a heated environment, such as an automobile with the heaters blasting. The key is to avoid any additional heat loss and to rewarm your dog as quickly as possible. Take the dog's rectal temperature. If he is mildly hypothermic, you can easily handle him by yourself. If the situation is moderate or extreme, prompt veterinary involvement is essential.