Unique Sporting Dog Injuries and Conditions

Submitted October 1, 2008

Q.) On our third outing of the season with my two-year old brittany disaster struck. He cut himself deeply on the top of his right hind paw, over the top of the outside toe and severed a tendon. Vet care was within two hours. The vet was able to overlap and stitch the tendon (I don't know how many stitches) and there are four stitches holding the external cut together. I was seeking a second opinion as to how long the recovery time for this injury should be, my vet recommended six weeks. How much exercise (walking) can I give the dog? Is there any way to judge when the injury is recovered enough to resume hunting? I don't know who is more depressed as October passes us by without hunting, my pup or myself?

A.) It will be difficult to give full recommendations without seeing your dog. There are a number of tendons in that general area, with some ranging from very important to the overall function of the limb and others that are more secondary in their function. That being said, I can give you some general suggestions with these type of injuries.

With athletic dogs I always try to make recommendations based on as quick of return to function as is safely possible. This type of injury can be particularly troublesome since the tendon was completely severed, and especially so because these tissues are extremely slow in healing and have a number of extreme stressing forces working against healing. Basically the key will be to make sure you have adequate healing taking place, followed by the correct amount and type of physical therapy, in order to return to function without reinjurying the leg. Thankfully the field of veterinary rehab and sports medicine is a rapidly growing field. Unfortunately there are still not enough rehabbers out there and many are located in more metro settings. If you have a certified canine rehabilitator near you I would strongly recommend scheduling an appointment with them to set up an appropriate plan based on the injury and the degree of recovery taking place.

If you do not have access to such services then I would speak with your vet about tracking someone down that he could talk to in order to develop a plan to aid in the return to function. Many injuries are straightforward enough to develop a plan for recovery; with a tendon issue we need to make sure healing is taking place, not allow too much scarring and contracture and then get the dog back to a performance level. Very likely this will have a good outcome, the key is to make sure healing is taking place and that we don't return to activity too soon.

Submitted November 17, 2008

Q.) My GSP lives to hunt, the problem is that her nose gets raw and bloody and she frequently gets punctures on her chest from going through so much thick cover. I decided to get her a chest protector to help the chest puncture problem. I was very disappointed after using it only to find that it had rubbed her severely under her arm area. Any suggestions on the nose or chest problem?

A.) Over the years I have tried just about every chest protector on the market for upland hunting. I'll keep this discussion purely on upland vests and not cover the neoprene vests designed for water retrieving. It seems like too many of these vests either fit too loosely and end up not offering adequate protection, or fit too tightly and cause extra damage like you experienced. A couple of things that I have found is that the protectors with buckle closures seem to be too loose and end up collecting seeds and debris. I'm also not a fan of the zipper closures, as they don't allow for enough adjustability. They do make neoprene upland vests; however, I worry about dogs overheating and chaffing is definitely an issue with these vests.

The vest that I have had the most success with is made by Pointer Specialties and has three velcro straps that are attached to a skid plate which protects the chest. Occassionally I have had some rubbing issues in the under arms, but it seems like the benefits of this vest outweight the negatives. They are simple to clean, the velcro seems to hold up for years and they offer good flexibility in fit while offering the utmost in protection. You can purchase this vest in a number of sporting good stores, for the exact vest I use here is a link to the vest at Gun Dog Supply.com's Online Store.

With the nose issues, unfortunately there isn't such a simple solution. Depending on the severity sometimes just keeping the area clean and dry after the hunt is about the only solution. Thankfully the area heals rapidly and with proper post-hunt care the dog will recover quickly. If it is a more extreme situation, or seems to happen with too much regularity, I might suggest a couple of options. As far as protection, you might want to apply some EMT Gel to the area prior to going into the cover. By letting it dry, to avoid plant pieces sticking to it, you would be providing a layer of protection. I'd be sure to use it on the areas around the nose and not the nose itself so that you don't interfere with scenting. An option I've never personally tried would be to use a product like Vaseline pre-hunt. This would be used much in the way boxers and fighters use it to deflect blows. The key with both of these applications would be to not allow the dog to lick the products off, as they could contribute to GI upset. A hard-working hunting dog in heavy cover is in a near constant state of nicks, bumps and bruises. The key is to recognize these issues, address them immediately and do everything you can to protect them moving forward.

Submitted 10/17/07:
I have an 18-month old yellow lab who went for his first hunt last weekend. He had a scar on his leg from when he was a pup. On his first hunt he must have rubbed it on some brush and it opened up. He developed an infection and the vet treated it with some antibiotics. I have since taken him hunting again and his scar opened up once again. The hard part is that the scar is right above where his leg bends so putting any type of protection over it is difficult. Short of having surgery is there anything else I can use? What about stretchy athletic tape? If he has to have surgery at the end of the hunting season to clean it up I am fine with that, I just don’t want to lose any valuable time in his first year of hunting. Any suggestions?

This is a conversation I have just about every week during hunting season with dog owners. I take a different approach to the situation than most, because I cherish the short time we have in the field with our dogs and even a two-week period on the bench recovering becomes a huge portion of a dog’s hunting career.

Without seeing your particular wound I’ll speak in generalities on how I handle injuries of this nature. First, as far as an ideal healing scenario, rest and the appropriate treatment will almost always result in the best cosmetic results. That being said I try my best not to lose any time in the field, which likely will result in delayed healing and the likelihood of a scar; however, I never promote anything I feel is detrimental to the health of the dog. My recommendations are usually much more liberal in trying to get a dog back out in the field than the recommendations from a non-hunting veterinarian. I recently had a conversation with a gentleman from Wisconsin at a motel game cleaning station. His dog had went through a fence and had a simple laceration on its chest. The vet that sutured the dog up recommended more than a month of rest which I thought was insanely long considering it would essentially take the dog out of most of the waterfowl season and good, early-season pheasants. With the proper care from the owner many of these dogs can return to activity much, much sooner.

The key is your willingness to manage the area to maintain it in optimum health in order to continue hunting the dog and ensure the injury doesn’t get worse or become infected. If it is an area that just gets rubbed raw and oozes, then I’d probably just make sure it gets thoroughly cleaned after each hunt and protect prior. The area you describe is very difficult to bandage or wrap and no matter the material it likely will be an exercise in frustration. One thing you might try is to apply a layer of EMT Gel to the area prior to the hunt. You’ll want to do it long enough before going into the field so that it has had time to dry and form a barrier, yet not too long prior so that the dog could lick it off. Keep a close eye on the situation and monitor for infection. I’m not a big fan of long-term use (more than a day or two) of antibiotic ointments, if it doesn’t stay nice looking with cleaning and EMT gel then you may need a course of oral antibiotics.

Depending on how the wounds are handled in the field, if I see lacerations on Monday morning it is my goal to have the dogs back out hunting the following weekend, and at most only missing one weekend. If these wounds are properly managed during the season, most of the minor ones will heal up fine during the off-season when the dog has plenty of time to rest.

These dogs are put through extreme conditions and do experience some minor and nagging injuries throughout the season. With minimal effort on the part of the owner many dogs can hunt through these conditions without any detriment to the dog. The important points are to know when it is more than a minor annoyance and to have the dedication to manage these injuries for the best benefit and health of the dog.

Submitted 11/04/07:
I have a 13-month old male GSP that develops cracks and splits in the webbing between his toes on the bottom of his front paws after running in the snow. They split and bleed and he will take turns holding each paw up when he’s not running. He really seems to opens his paws up and grab with the when he runs so the snow makes contact with the webbing. His pads seem fine and nails are short. One paw also bleeds slightly at the spot where his dew claw was removed and has not fur to cover that small patch of skin. My younger pup is out for the same time and has not problems. I so far have soaked his paws in warm water with a touch of Epsom salts and applied a vitamin E Vaseline type cream, as well as ordered him hunting boots. Is there anything I can do as a preventative once they heal up for hunting in the snow?

This is a fairly common problem in this part of the country, and as you have noticed seems to affect certain dogs more than others. I know you have already ordered your boots, but if I may make a suggestion on that front I can’t say enough good things about the products from www.dogbooties.com. I have had tremendous success and I think they are greatly underpriced. I usually order them a dozen or two at a time so I have multiple pairs on hand and am able to rotate. My preferred model is the 1000-Denier Cordura with the Velstretch fastner. I previously would apply vetwrap to keep these in place, but with the new closure system I did not lose a single booty this year.

With the current condition of the feet it might be worthwhile to have them checked by your veterinarian. It is possible that the snow and subsequent wetness actually caused a skin infection of the webbing and that it wasn’t from the mechanical damage of the snow. We see a fair number of dogs with bacterial and/or yeast infections of the interpad area. Treatment can range from some topical sprays/shampoos to longer term oral medications.

As for something preventative, I think the booties will be your best bet on that front.

Submitted 10/11/07:
I own a four-year old lab. I bought my dog as a puppy from a gun dog trainer. She is a fantastic upland hunting dog and very athletic. I feel that it is important to keep her in good shape. This past summer I tool her to an open field close to our house to do some retrieving in the mornings while the temps were still cool. This particular morning we did our normal routine and walked home, on the way home Bailey was panting fairly hard and rather fast. I realized that she had probably gotten hot. When we got home I made sure she continued to drink water and watched her for quite a while. Besides the initial heavy panting she showed no other signs of any heat problems. After a few minutes of active cooling her panting had subsided. Bailey lives indoors with us so I put her inside in the air conditioning and kept an eye on her the rest of the day. Bailey acted completely normal, no vomit, diarrhea and she was full of energy. I really didn’t think much more about it until about a week later we had a storm go through the area in the evening and the temps dropped into the low seventies. I thought this would be a good opportunity to throw some retrieves in our back yard. Bailey worked for probably ten or fifteen minutes. I stopped to talk to the neighbor for a few minutes and when I turned around Bailey was sitting in a strange position. I called to her and she came, but when we walked inside I noticed she didn’t walk quite normal. She never lost her balance but was just not normal. I realized that this is sometimes a sign of heat stress. Did I overdo it on these occasions or could it be something else?

Your story illustrates a couple of different points about working with dogs in heat, and I’m going to address those first and throw out some other possibilities last. If you take a look in the library section of the site I have a couple of articles dealing with first aid kits and heat stroke. I think your example shows why having a digital thermometer is so vitally important in situations like these. Had you been able to take your dog’s temperature, you would have a much better picture about what was going on with your dog. It is also important to establish what is normal and what is abnormal for your particular dog, and while it may seem odd it is better and easier to do this during off-season training sessions rather than during hunting season.

Second, you mention working your dog in the water; too often people associate a wet dog with a cool dog and this isn’t always the case. Too frequently the water during the summer months is also warm, which can create a situation similar to working a dog in a hot tub. If the outside temperature is warm, the water is shallow, or both, you still have to be extremely careful when working dogs in water during the summer months. I know of more than one professional lab trainer that has lost “wet” dogs to heat stroke.

Lastly, the one temperature you referenced was that the temps had cooled to the seventies. Seventy feels cool during the summer months when we’ve had a streak of 90+ temps; however, it is still a pretty high temperature for working a majority of dogs. During hunting season 70 can feel like a scorcher, and with some dogs anything above 60 degrees can be highly suspect.

Now, those would be all the points that make me highly suspicious of heat stroke, and to be quite honest it would be very high on my list. The fact that she had two of these episodes, particularly if they are heat related, would concern me greatly about future episodes as many of these dogs lose their ability to regulate their body temperature accurately. Thus a dog that had a heat event at 70 degrees could have one at a much lower temp in the future. Until you get to the bottom of the situation I would certainly want to monitor her very closely in the field.

With that being said there are also other conditions that could cause the symptoms you witnessed. Low-blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, certainly can cause collapse or ataxia and also can lead to heat stroke. Certain metabolic problems like Addison’s disease (an adrenal gland that is not working normally) would also be on the list. At the top of the “other possibilities” list, especially with a Labrador would Exercise Induced Collapse. It is a condition that is being researched and for which there is a genetic test available. Here are a couple of links on the subject:

The second link contains a contact at the University of Minnesota, if you are interested in pursuing testing I would pass this information on to your veterinarian and have them contact these individuals, as they have been very helpful in coordinating testing.

Submitted 12/22/06:
I was hunting with my two year old lab on Saturday. We were experiencing a severe cold front and the water temps caused a decently thick layer of ice on the ponds. After the hunt her legs and paws have been swollen. Although she is not showing many signs of discomfort I was wondering if the impact of the ice has caused bruising and could be the reason for the swelling.

There are a couple of concerns I have with these types of hunting situations. One is the obvious concern of the ice and if the dog was busting through the ice. This definitely could cause swelling and damage. The other concern is with the extremely cold temperatures and the potential issues associated with hypothermia.

If the swelling and discomfort have not gone away after a day or so I would definitely recommend an exam to make sure there are no long-standing injuries. And while it may take a while for some of the symptoms to subside, at a minimum your vet could place her on some anti-inflammatories to help with the discomfort.

One of my hunting partners related a cold-weather hunting story similar to yours with his dog. While the dog performed admirably throughout the hunt, at the end of the day the dog was spent and clearly hypothermic. His hunt did not involve a lot of ice busting but was in frigid, icy waters. I could tell when he was relating the tale how shook up he was at the after-effects of hunting the dog, he had to carry the dog back to the truck and message him for hours after returning from home. These dogs will do anything for us, and, as a result, will put themselves in situations they shouldn’t. It is at these times we have to make clear decisions about the situations we put them in. For some reason icy water hunts are ones I try to avoid with my dogs. I’m sure your dog will be fine, but just some things to think about the next time.

Submitted 12/22/06:
Porcupines and their quills are a problem for my young GSP as well as for me. It is very difficult to restrain her while trying to remove the quills. My dog and I hunt chukars in very remote areas. Because of that I carry a pretty good medical kit with me in my backpack. However, after my last experience I think I would like to get some oral anesthesia that will sedate my dog to facilitate removal of quills and provide any other emergency medical treatment. Is there anything you can recommend?

Unfortunately there is nothing good available for the purpose you desire. Often we deal with extremely viscous dogs in the practice, and I would love to have a product I could have the owner administer orally prior to the appointment. In fact, within the last couple of months I had a boxer that the owner was so afraid of they wouldn’t even think about putting a muzzle on the dog. While dealing with this dog I consulted with board-certified anesthesiologists who recommend some products used in wild animals, and while it slowed the dog down, it would have been impossible to remove quills.

There are some drugs that we use orally to sometimes take the edge off; however, they react very inconsistently from dog to dog and usually do not sedate them enough to do anything like quill removal. I would talk this one over with your vet and establish your comfort level with giving medications. I personally would not send out any injectable anesthesia with a client except in very rare situations.

Submitted 8/28/06:
I have a two-year old English Setter. She had a beautiful 12 o’clock tail when on point. This past weekend I noticed she carried her tail low and curved horizontally to the left, almost like she was in heat. This position was held while running as well as when on point. I checked her for heat and saw no sign. I manipulated the tail and found no hint of pain. It has been two days and I have not seen any change back to her original tail position. I do have an appointment booked with the vet but I am wondering if this is a common occurrence and what the usual prognosis is and treatment.

Without seeing the dog it is difficult to say what is exactly going on. There are two thoughts that come to mind with your description. The first is a condition referred to as limber tail, cold-water tail or happy tail. It occurs in dogs with very active tails and results in pain and inflammation of the muscles along the base of the tail which causes the dogs to have a “droopy” tail. The one thing that does not fit in your situation is that the dogs usually appear painful. The second thought I had would be boredom or a lack of excitement. You didn’t mention if these were planted birds, new birds, etc. Some dogs will get bored with the same thing over and over and become less enthused about their work and their tail carriage and pointing. I have also noticed with my youngest setter she is less intense on new birds until she figures out it is what we are after. It took her three trips on prairie grouse before she started pointing them with a lot of intensity. Hopefully by the time you read this the problem will already be resolved.

Submitted 8/10/06:
I have a three-year old chocolate lab that ran over a porcupine while out hunting opening weekend. He had surgery to get the quills out and I was wondering how long I should wait until I can hunt him again. It has been 19 days since surgery, is that enough time for the scar to thoroughly heal? What are the chances of it breaking open while we are out hunting? It has healed so well you can barely see the scar.

With hunting dogs I take a little bit different look at a return to activity. Hunting seasons are so short and each day in the field with our dogs is time well spent. I will usually educate owners about trying to protect the injury and about the fact we may be delaying healing in order to get the dog out in the field sooner. What this means is that we may have some setbacks with the healing and have to “baby” the area for longer than if we just let it heal.

Typically even with a severe laceration I will try to get those dogs back in the field anywhere from 7-14 days, and depending on the location if we can get creative protecting the area sometimes I will go even sooner.

Scar tissue is not as tough as the normal skin, which leaves you two options: either waiting it out until the wound is healed and there is some hair regrowth or protect the area, keep it clean and go out hunting.

Submitted 12/26/05:
My English Pointer stuck a hawthorn in the pad of her foot. I pulled the thorn from her pad and it appeared that all of the thorn came out. This happened two weeks ago. Her foot swelled the next day and she would not touch it to the ground. I put some bag balm on it each day for a wekk and kept her off the foot. The swelling went down and she started putting her foot back on the ground after a week passed. I took her hunting yesterday and she ran for about four hours. This morning her foot is swollen again? What should I do? I have been told that if there is still some of the thorn in her foot it will continue to cause trouble but will eventually work out of the foot. What suggestions do you have?

This is a point that hits close to home, as I just performed surgery on Maggie about three weeks ago to remove a prickly pear spike from between her toes. If your dog is experiencing recurring swelling and pain there is a possibility of a plant piece still stuck in there. Also, putting ointment on the outside is not going to help at all, if anything you will want to get her on oral antibiotics if there is infection. Lastly, there are many cases in which the thorn will NOT “eventually work out of the foot.”

In Maggie’s case I noticed the swelling, which after taking a sample from it, I determined was an area of infection. I attempted to manage it with antibiotics and Epsom salt soaks, but after a week without any improvement I went in to find the offending object. While the soaks did not alleviate this thorn, they did draw out numerous other thorns from the rest of her pads which absolutely amazed me.

These dogs are tough, but we owe it to them to make sure they are as comfortable and protected from foot injuries. It sounds like your dog has been battling this for several weeks now, I would definitely get her in to your vet so that the problem can be properly addressed.

Maggie's Toe
Maggie's Toe With the Swelling

Submitted 10/32/05:
My two year old French Brit began sneezing six weeks ago after a trip to the South Dakota prairie. The nasal discharge was white, then purulent and has waxed and waned since even after two courses of antibiotics. My vet has x-rayed his chest and sinuses and looked into his nose with an otoscope about 4 cm with nothing abnormal to report. The washings grew out tow different types of bacteria but I’m not convinced that this is the primary problem. Does this sound like allergies, retained foreign body or something else? He looks well but is destroying the house with all the discharge. Any advice would be appreciated.

Unfortunately I have experienced nasal foreign body issues first hand (and ironically they occurred in South Dakota). Last fall my little setter had a go around with a stick that managed to stay in her nasal cavity for nearly a month.

There definitely is the possibility that there is a foreign body in the sinuses, but it is also possible that there is some other irritation causing these issues. If the discharge is only out of one nostril, I would be more suspicious of a foreign body or injury; if it is out of both, then I’d be more suspicious of other causes. It sounds like you have done all of the standard treatments and diagnostics, and it is probably time to get a little more advanced.

Definitely if it is discharging only out of one nostril, I would be highly suspicious of a foreign body and the next steps I would recommend would be to actually have the nasal passages scoped and also be prepared to have a CT scan performed. This will allow better visualization, as the scope gets in further than an otoscope will allow and the CT would allow an entirely different view.

When I went through this, I was on the last day of the antibiotics when the stick finally came out. My plan was to take Maggie to Iowa State the next week if things continued. One thing to note is that if there was some type of damage done (i.e. stick went in and came out), there is the possibility there will always be some abnormalities, with some degree of discharge if the injury was severe enough. Certainly purulent discharge is not normal even after an injury; however, it is possible that with injuries some dogs will have continual discharge.

Submitted 10/22/05:
On the third day of three days of hard hunting for South Dakota pheasants, my lab’s tail is hanging limp. It also is tender, but I don’t think it is broken but does hurt when I try to move it. A lab with a limp tail is a sorry site! What should I do?

Likely you are dealing with a situation that goes by several names, including limber tail, cold-water tail, lab tail or happy tail. We see this quite frequently in practice and it can be quite a disturbing event for many owners, as the dog is painful and often it appears as though the tail is broken.

Essentially what has happened is that the muscles of the tail have become inflamed, likely from working harder than the body could clean up the by-products of exercise. Thankfully this is a condition that usually takes care of itself in a matter of a few days. I would recommend not “monkeying” with the tail too much and to give the dog a couple of days of rest. If she is extremely painful sometimes anti-inflammatories (through your vet) will need to be used.

Typically we will see this in two groups of dogs, dogs that do a lot of swimming (like our retrievers) or dogs with animated tails in the uplands. In my experience most dogs have one episode of this and it is rare to have another, even when performing the same original activity. We went through this during Emma’s first duck season, and thankfully in the last six years have not had to go through it again.

Keep an eye on things but likely she’ll be back out chasing roosters in just a matter of days.

Submitted 10/22/05:
I have a three-year old male Setter and I read your article about overheating. My dog is in pre-season training with our trainer and he told me that the dog is running hot. Some of this may be excitement of getting back out in the field but my fear is that maybe his internal temperature regulation is out of whack as you mentioned in the article. Over the summer I have done some roading with my bicycle but have always been careful to take breaks and water regularly. My concern is that the damage may have already been done. What would be your advice to diagnose a condition and what can we do if he does have it?

I wouldn’t be too worried from the information you’ve given so far. If your dog has not had a true heat stroke episode I doubt anything internally has been affected and unfortunately there is no test to perform to find out. My guess is that your dog just may be one of those dogs that is not very heat tolerant and shows signs of heat stress quicker than other dogs. My chessie has never been one to tolerate temperatures over 60. My setter on the other hand is usually all right into the low 70s but not much beyond. On the other end of the spectrum I have a training partner that regularly runs his wirehairs in 80-plus temps…which I don’t recommend. I would talk with the trainer a little more in-depth and find out exactly what he’s seeing and what type of problems, if any, the dog has run in to.

I think it is great you are conscious of the fact this dog may be heat sensitive, but at this time I would just recommend doing what you are already doing, which is to work on conditioning and to monitor how he handles the heat very close.

If, however, the dog has had a significant heat episode, or is exhibiting other symptoms of a problem (i.e. increased drinking, not eating, etc.) than I would be more concerned and more likely to recommend a preseason physical and blood work-up.

Submitted 6/10/05:
We will be hunting in Eastern Washington in the fall and I’m trying to so some homework on snakebites and dogs. It is my understanding that there is a rattlesnake vaccine available. What is your opinion on this? What would be the course of action if our dogs were to experience a rattlesnake bite?

I've had a couple of people contact me or express interest in the new rattlesnake vaccine. The company presented some information at the Western States Veterinary conference and this is where most of the following info comes from.

The company is out of California, Red Rock Biologics, and there is some information on their website (www.redrockbiologics.com)

It is designed to protect against envenomation by the Western Diamondback, but they state it cross-protects against many US rattlesnakes. The initial series is a two shot series (3-6 weeks betweens shots) with an annual booster AND a potential booster every 4-6 months during the snake season depending on the size of the dog.

At this time they have had no anaphylactic reactions or death from this vaccine, though my guess is it has been used on a relatively small number of dogs as up until recently it was only available in California.

They state that dogs develop protective antibody titers comparable to the capacity of 2-3 vials of anti-venom. It is still very important that these dogs seek veterinary care and observation after a snake bite. The basic idea is that vaccinated dogs appear to present with fewer and less severe symptoms than similar sized unvaccinated dogs but they still require hospitalization and care.

It also appears from their literature that larger dogs will have more total antibody than smaller dogs and thus have the potential for neutralizing a larger dose of venom.

Basically the dog will still need veterinary care, but the treatment MAY not be as aggressive and if anti-venom is not needed much less expensive.

This is a very new product that I have no experience with personally, but one I find interesting. I would definitely recommend talking it over with your veterinarian before moving forward with vaccination. Just posting up some of the info I received for those that requested it. I'll post more if I hear more.

The biggest thing is to remember even if your dog is vaccinated you will need to get them to a vet ASAP. None of the old wives tales treatments work (suction, cutting the wound, electricity, etc.); basically these dogs need to be hospitalized and monitored. With some venomous snakes the major concern is more from the bacterial infection that results rather than the venom. If you know or suspect your dog has been bitten seek veterinary care as this is one of those cases that you shouldn’t take the sit and wait approach.

Submitted 12/13/2004:
I have a 20-month old Brittany. Last year I took him hunting chukars and after a day or two of hunting in the talis rocks, even with boots, his feet have developed soft/sore spots. This past summer I treated his feet with a pad toughener and exercised him 3-4 times a week locally. The local terrain is not as rugged as the terrain the chukar like. His feet stood up much better, but still he had a few sore sports between his toes after a few days of hunting.

My question is, what would you recommend to treat his paws with to toughen them up?

It sounds to me like you are on the right path with your off-season program. Unfortunately I have no experience with the various compounds on the market for pad toughening, as I just haven’t hunted terrain that requires it.

That being said, I think the conditioning you are doing will do more for the feet than a chemical. I think this is a case of practicing like you play, and unfortunately, outside of exercising in the actual terrain, you may never come up with a perfect solution. You may also want to investigate other boots; I recently received some pictures of the type of boot I use that had been hunted one day out West and were absolutely shredded. These same boots can last me several seasons.

It sounds like you are on the right path in preparing your dog. The only other thing I would advise is that when you hunt a dog hard, you are virtually guaranteed to have some nagging little injuries, bumps or scrapes. As long as you make sure you address these adequately, to help the healing process, most dogs will continue to hunt fine even with minor aches and pains.

Submitted 12/19/2004:
We have been to the vet several times with a very strange occurrence that our two-year old lab is having when pheasant hunting. She gets “birdie” and hunts great, and then suddenly her back end goes out. Legs out to the side and flaccid. She is still trying to fetch, her nose and upper body still on the bird. After a bit of rest and water she rebounds and gets to the car herself.

She has had her blood work checked for electrolytes and glucose and the x-rays of her spine and hips are also perfect. We did the ACTH test for Addison’s, which was borderline/non-conclusive. She did a course of steroids and hunted on the fourth day and it still occurred. We are stumped. Any thoughts before seeing an internal medicine specialist?

There are a couple of things that come to mind with collapse in hunting dogs, and especially labs. I would say I see with regularity hunting-dog hypoglycemia, which is a low blood sugar. The problem with testing the levels in the clinic is that they have usually returned to normal by the time you get to the clinic. Sometimes we reach this diagnosis based on description of the event and response to treatment in the field. I would talk this possibility over with your vet and the next time out be prepared with KARO syrup or dextrose to see if the dog responds.

It sounds like your vet has looked at some of the other possibilities I would think of, such as seizure disorders, injuries, etc; however, the one possibility you didn’t mention that I would have on my list of possibilities would be Exercise Induced Collapse in Labrador Retrievers. This is a complicated disease that is still being worked out. I cannot do it justice here but would recommend visiting this article for a more detailed explanation: EIC Article. I would guess a majority of veterinarians not involved with sporting dogs may overlook this possibility. If your vet suspects this, there are some things that can be done to help further the research if he/she would contact one of the groups listed.

Unfortunately, because there is no set diagnosis, you still may want to visit a specialist before coming to any conclusions.

Submitted 10/22/04:
I have a 20 month old female English Pointer. 3 weeks ago during the weekend opener of the chucker season I took her out. We hunted for approximately 1 hour in very steep grades. My female gets extraordinarily excited about hunting and seems to hunt at a "full out" pace at all times. As temperatures were nearing 80 degrees, I carried a lot of water with me and I gave her approximately 1.5 liters of water during that hour. After about an hour, she had slowed considerably -- and so had I -- so we called it quits. She was not overheated, just very tired.

When we arrived home (approximately 2.5 hours later) I noticed her urine had a brownish tint to it and she seemed to be lethargic and very stiff. Fearing that something was wrong, I immediately took her to the emergency hospital where they ran tests and determined she had a high amount of Myoglobin? in her urine. She was admitted and stayed for two days where she was hooked up to an IV to flush her system out. The vet gave a diagnosis of Exertional Rhabdomyolysis - a.k.a. "exercise induced rhabdomyolysis" or "exertional myolysis" - in horses it is called "tying-up". She recommended that we not hunt the dog anymore.

A couple of things. She probably was not as conditioned as she could have been. Prior to the opener, I was taking her out to the fields near our home for approximatley 30 minute runs three times a week (I have a busy career, two kids...I know not a good excuse) so that probably contributed to her lack of conditioning. Aside from that, she "jogs" with my wife 2-3 times a week, no more than 2 miles.

Second, we typically don't hunt that type of terrain. We mostly hunt for pheasant or huns on level ground.

My question is, have you ever heard of something like this happening? She wasn't in good shape, but she's thin (you can see her ribs) and certainly is no couch potato. She did not overheat. We only hunted for an hour. Will proper conditioning prevent this from happening in the future? I'm hesitant to take our vet's advice that she not be hunted again. The vets in Seattle have little to no experience with hunting dogs. Can you offer some advice? Thank you.

First a quick summary on the condition: exertional rhabdomyolysis is a metabolic disorder reported in sporting breeds following vigorous exercise. It presents as varying degrees of inflammation of the muscles of the back, which become swollen, tense, hot and extremely painful to the touch. The muscle cell breakdown leads to myoglobinuria (the dark urine you indicated), difficult and painful movement and, in untreated cases, will cause the rapid onset of renal failure that results in a high mortality rate in untreated cases.

Thankfully this is not an incredibly common disease in sporting dogs, but one that does occur in performance dogs. I think a few of the things you mentioned about your situation may have predisposed your pup to this episode, they include being out of shape for the exercise performed, being excited prior to the activity, and being hot (80 degrees in an unconditioned dog can be extremely warm)…my chessie starts pegging out when it climbs above 70 degrees. That’s the bad news; the good news is, it sounds like the condition was handled exactly as it should have been once you left the field. The key with these cases is to get them to a veterinarian immediately so that they can begin supportive care. In this particular situation the major concern is that the dog will develop acute renal failure and possibly death.

As far as return to function, I would let the dog be the guide and definitely would continue follow-up care and bloodwork with your vet. The key to a full return will hinge on how much damage was done to the muscles, particularly the muscles along the back. Because it sounds like care was given immediately, your prognosis is better. After a suitable period of kennel rest and soft bedding you can slowly start testing the waters with a gradual return to walking or swimming. With any dog that has suffered from an exercise induced condition, I always prefer to error on the side of being too cautious and definitely take the long slow road back to recovery. Let your vet know that you would like to return this dog to hunting and that you would like their help in guiding you through the recovery; I would wager they will be more than helpful if they understand your level of dedication.

* * *

In response to this post on exertional rhabdomyolyis, I received the following comments from a veterinarian who also runs working dogs. I love our gundogs, but it is hard to beat the herding dogs when it comes to intelligence.

"I was enjoying through your column when I read the mesage from 10/22/04 dealing with Canine Exertional Rhabdomyolysis (CER). I'm a vet in the Northwest and train and work herding dogs. I have a 4 yr old Kelpie that has done the same thing. He is quite fit but like the dog in the message, gives 110% while working and is very intense. After treating the acute bout, I researched CER to find a way to prevent future attacks. I learned that providing a dog with enough protein and fat can help prevent episodes. In fact, dogs can be conditioned to use fat (actually circulating free fatty acids) as their main source of energy. This is called Fat Adaptation. Mushers use this knowledge to keep their dogs going during those grueling sled races. Bottom line, I changed my dog's diet to 30% protein/20% fat and mix in an additional fat supplement depending on his exercise level. Six weeks after the initial episode, we placed in the top 10% of a very competitive cow dog trial.

Upon further reflection, I've come to believe that this dog had many minor episodes of CER in the months preceding the diagnosis: He was sore after working despite a good conditioning program; he seemed to "hit the wall" after short but intense works; he lacked the endurance he previously exhibited (when he was younger, he could work all day). Now, he's been on the higher protein/fat diet for 6 months and it's almost impossible to tire him out.

Lastly, a few rules of thumb that I follow:

  • High protein diets can be contraindicated in dogs with underlying diseases such as renal compromise. Be sure your dog is healthy before starting such a diet.
  • Dogs fed such a concentrated energy source can get fat! You may have to feed dramatically smaller volumes of food. You must monitor your dog's weight, especially in the off season.
  • Some dogs are sensitive to high fat diets and can develop colitis or pancreatitis. These diseases can be serious. Talk to your vet to determine if your dog may be sensitive.

Thanks for letting me share my experience. I love seeing dogs do what they were bred to do... Happy Hunting!"

As always, I welcome input from site visitors, as the best way to further our knowledge of these wonderful breeds is to learn from each other. Thanks for the response. For more on performance diets take a look at the "Proper Diet Encourages Overall Gundog Health" article in our library section.

Submitted 10/24/04:
I do a lot of training with many different breeds of bird dogs. If at some time one of the dogs would get into some poison and I wanted to immediately make the dog throw up what could I give the dog to make this happen safely?

This is a great question and one that has made me make some additions to my own first-aid kit. I deal with these types of situations fairly regularly but have never carried anything with me to induce vomiting. Today while pheasant hunting my Chessie ate something putrid (likely feces) and your question made me think, what if it had been a coyote bait or rat poison???

I typically use two different common household items to induce vomiting. Choose one and stick with it, don’t mix and match. Also, if you can’t get the dog to vomit after two doses, don’t continue to give them, as they can cause further problems. Get the dog to a veterinarian, there are medications that we can give to get a dog to vomit. The first product I use is 3% hydrogen peroxide (dose of 0.5-1 ml per pound) with a maximum dose of 2 tablespoons (30 mls). If the dog does not vomit in 15 minutes give a second dose of half the amount of the first and only give the two doses. You can administer this with a syringe, or if you don’t have one a turkey baster or something similar works well. I will also occasionally use table salt. For a medium to large dog I would use a tablespoon. Again, if the dog doesn’t vomit repeat the administration only once.

One key thing to consider here is that there is some poisons that you don’t want the dog to vomit back up. I would recommend carrying your veterinarian's phone number with you to touch base, and if they recommend inducing vomiting you will be ready to go. There is also an Animal Poison Control Hotline (1-888-232-8870). They do charge a fee up front for information; however, it is very reasonable and your vet can consult with them throughout treatment of your pet for no further fee after the initial one. Another note is try to identify the specific poison your dog may have ingested to help your vet in the treatment. For instance, not all rat poisons are identical, so if the packaging is available have it ready when you talk with your veterinarian. Lastly, even if you get your dog to vomit, touch base with your veterinarian for any follow-up instructions.

Submitted 10/2/04:
My six-month old English Setter recently developed a swollen and bulging eye, really gross looking. I thought maybe a bee sting but the vet operated for an abscess, going in through the mouth. She expected to find pus but didn’t. Said she removed some tissue with the blunt hemostats and put her on antibiotics. This problem developed overnight. She said this was a fairly common problem but I have never seen or heard of it. Have you?

Ironically the last two cases that I’ve had of this condition have been in English Setters, one very old dog and one relatively young dog. I would have to say that in my experience this is an uncommon condition, but one that does occur.

The area just behind the last tooth is somewhat soft and it is thought the dog may have had something (plant awn, stick, etc.) penetrate upward and cause an abscess. We also see this with trauma or from bite wounds. The goal of treatment is exactly what your veterinarian did, and that is establish drainage and start antibiotics. Even though not a lot of pus was found, she likely established a drainage tract for anything that may have been up there.

I would caution to monitor the pup carefully once the antibiotics are stopped, as it is possible that the problem could come back if the inciting cause was not brought out when drainage was attempted. This condition also causes dogs a lot of pain when opening their mouths; for this reason I would caution against doing anything related to hunting that would cause the dog pain. For instance if the dog goes to make a retrieve when it’s painful you may have trouble developing this dog into a retriever. I would pretty much lay off any type of training until the problem is resolved.

Submitted 10/30/04:
My 16-month old GSP has swollen front “wrist joints.” She shows no pain, I believe she is hitting her joint on a beeper/bell collar while hunting. Shorthairs tend to hunt low head a lot, and after repeated hunting my theory is bruised joints with a “water on the knee” kind of thing. Since she isn’t showing pain, I am on a wait and see as we are on a long weekend off hunting due to high winds/rain.

If the swelling appears to be in and around the actual joint it should probably be looked at; however if it seems to be in the tissue over the joint your assessment is probably correct. This is a fairly common site for these swellings in young, thin, athletic dogs. My one-dog injury show, Maggie (the Setter), developed them last year. She was also non-painful, but I did a full work up with x-rays and cytology (took a sample to look at under the scope) and found nothing. After talking with other vets who see a lot of sporting dogs and with my own experiences my thoughts are that it’s a swelling of the tissue deep to the fat and not a pocket of fluid. Although it is unsightly, they do not appear to cause any problems to the dog. Many dogs will have them in one of their first seasons and then never again…just one of those sporting dog oddities.

Submitted 7/22/04:
The OFA report on my pudelpointer's hips came back “fair.” The breeder said OFA was pretty subjective and if I was serious about breeding him, I should have a Penn Hip evaluation done. Is the Penn Hip a significantly more accurate assessment of hip functionality?

This is an interesting question, made more interesting by your choice of breeds. Not that pudelpointers are known for hip dysplasia, but that some of the information provided by PennHip relies on average measurements taken for that breed. With a breed like pudelpointers, there is going to be a very small number of individuals who have had PennHip surveys done, compared to breeds like the Labrador, Golden, etc.

In the library section of the site is an article about hip dysplasia, which may offer some more insight into the differences between these two methods of evaluating the hips.

A few things I would caution: one is that many breeders are not going to want to hear that they are producing pups that potentially have bad hips. Thus it stands to reason your breeder wants you to find a more favorable answer. The bigger question you have to ask yourself is: why do you want to breed? My common line in these types of questions is that I feel the only reason to breed is either to better the breed or to continue the genetics of an individual that epitomizes what the breed is about…this becomes especially important in the less popular breeds with small genetic pools. Basically it boils down to two things: either you have an outstanding individual whose other characteristics outweigh the potential for questionable hips or you are breeding a dog that may further diminish the breed by POTENTIALLY passing on the genetics for poor hip confirmation. I say potentially because hip dysplasia and how it is passed on is not even close to being completely understood. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer here. A Board certified radiologist feels that your dog has less than good hips...now it is up to you to choose how you utilize this information.

Submitted 3/14/07:
My Golden Retriever and I do a lot of hiking. I want to get her a chest protector but worry about overheating when hiking in Arizona in the summer. What type of material would be best for this kind of weather.

I have owned a number of these products and the one I have settled on is a skid plate that I have seen sold under different packaging. The actual labels on the two I’m using now read "The Original TUMMY SAVER” by Pointer Specialties, though the phone number is worn off. I have seen them in just about every sporting good retailer that has a minimal dog supply selection. It is a light material with reinforcement over the sensitive underside areas. The closure system is three Velcro straps, one over the neck, one behind the legs and one around the abdomen. I have tried numerous buckle closure vests that just didn’t get snug. Also with the neoprene vests and/or the zippered vests you cover up more of the dog than is needed which will contribute to heat issues. As far as dog vests go I wouldn’t change a thing about this one, as it provides protection and allows for ventilation.

Submitted 11/12/05:
How should you stop a dogs tongue from bleeding? I was out hunting and my dog either bit his tongue or got into some pickers. It would not stop bleeding for a few hours.

The tongue is a tough area to get bleeding to stop. Your best bet is to crate the dog to stop all activity and hopefully the natural clotting process will take place. Many of these injuries that are on the surface will heal fine on their own, but if the dog has bit his tongue, or cut it deep, it may need to be stitched.

I have a picture of Emma after hunting standing corn in which she cut her tongue, her entire kennel and front of her body is covered in blood. They bleed badly, but most of the time stop on their own. Just make sure to get the dog calmed down to lower the blood pressure and evaluate how deep the cut is.

Submitted 8/05/05:
We just got back our 10-month old GSP from a month long training camp. Her anus was red and swollen. The vet diagnosed her with infection of the anal glands. What causes this infection and what should we do to prevent it in the future?

Anal glands are among a veterinarians least favorite topics, and we all have anal gland war stories. Anal glands are two little sacs that reside under the skin of a dog near the anus. If looking at the anus as a clock face they would be around 7-8 o’clock and 4-5 o’clock. They have little ducts that empty into two little openings just inside the rectum. It is thought they originally were used to make feces smell bad (I know it already does) to help discourage pups in the wild from eating stool and thus help with parasites. With our modern canines the glands really serve no purpose other than to annoy our pets and frustrate owners and veterinarians.

Anal glands can become infected or impacted in a variety of ways. Many times we will see this associated with an allergy complex. As the glands are an extension of the skin and surrounded by skin, if the skin becomes inflamed it can pinch the duct off and cause the glands to become overfilled and uncomfortable. Also, as this is not the cleanest area of the dog; it is an easy route for infection to travel down the ducts and cause infection in the glands. In some dogs I think it is just an anatomical problem in which the glands just do not empty on their own but rather fill up and cause the dog discomfort.

Treatments will vary, but with a first time offender I typically empty the glands (prescribe antibiotics if needed) and hope it was a one-time incident. With repeat offenders I will do a variety of things. If I suspect it has an allergy component than I will address the allergies. If I suspect the glands just aren’t emptying like normal than I will try a higher fiber diet in order to bulk the stool up which may help to express the glands.

Rarely will we have dogs that battle the problem constantly and some of these dogs will require surgical removal of the glands. The reason we don’t jump at this option immediately is that one of the potential side-effects is fecal incontinence, which is never a good thing.

Submitted 3/27/06:
I went on a pheasant hunt yesterday with my five-year old intact male GSP who is in excellent health. He is current on all shots. It was 40 degrees with a slight breeze and cloudy. About 2.5 hours into the hunt I saw him on point in some scrub brush, as I approached him I could see he was moving but very slow, almost like he was dragging something. I called him out and he was trying to go forward but it was hard for him to move his legs forward. It was like the brakes were on. I immediately stripped his vest and collar. His breathing and heart rate were normal. Eyes were clear, no punctures. He still wanted to go forward. I sat with him for about two or three minutes and then had him heel to a slow walk. Within two minutes he was fine. I ended the hunt and went back to the truck. He was working on an empty stomach, he gets too excited to eat before a hunt. Is this a low blood sugar issue? This has never happened before.

This is a tricky one, as it certainly could be a hypoglycemic issue, though with those conditions and a well-conditioned dog I would not expect it. That being said, if I do not use inter-exercise supplements with my setter Maggie, I WILL get into these types of issues regardless of the temperature, conditioning or time of the year.

The part that is confusing is your dog’s behavior. In my experience, many of the hypoglycemic dogs that I have seen either seizure, completely stop or become obviously confused, as though something is going on upstairs (which it is).

It would definitely be worth talking this over with your veterinarian, having an exam done and a full blood work-up, if for no other reason than for peace of mind. As far as “game day” nutrition, I subscribe to the school of thought of not feeding a dog on the morning of a hunt. I will, however, use some different techniques to keep my dogs going throughout the day and subsequent days. In the past I used just plain dextrose orally. Depending on the dog, I would either use it before, during and after in a dog like Maggie, or in the case of a dog like Emma, who has no issues I would just use it at the end of the day.

Last season I used a product called K-9 Restart, which is a powder that is mixed with water to entice drinking and also to provide some carbohydrates and other added benefits. I liked how this product worked in my dogs so much that I went through two cases of it last season. With Maggie I was able to get her enough energy to keep her going all day, and with Emma I could keep her hydrated, as she has always been a finicky eater.

Submitted 1/9/05:
We have a pointer that is now 2.5 years old and is hypoglycemic. She did not show any signs until about 2 months ago when having several seizures. We have been feeding her several meals a day and doing conditioning. Is there any suggestion as to what type of specific food, supplements, etc. we could give her to build up her glucose? Also, is the hypoglycemia hereditary or just a condition of this dog that can be out grown? This condition was not present during her first 2.5 years and she was able to hunt al day with no problems.

My answer is going to be based on the assumption that these episodes are only occurring out in the field and are a true “hunting-dog” hypoglycemia. If that is the case, I would continue on the path you are going down with an emphasis on conditioning and appropriate diets. The problem with some of these dogs is that they get themselves over-excited in the crate and end up burning through a lot of energy before they ever hit the ground, and when they finally do, they have nothing left to give. So, I would recommend trying to reduce the amount of anxiety and build-up associated with these events. As far as food is concerned, I would try to find a food that doesn’t cause rapid increases and, consequently, rapid falls in blood sugar. For a dog like yours, I would recommend a high-quality performance diet with rice as the preferred carbohydrate source. One note on these diets: it usually takes around eight weeks for the dog's body to become conditioned to the higher level of fats, so don’t expect an immediate turn-around. So, while you are physically conditioning the body, the body is also conditioning itself to utilize the tools given to it in the form of food.

I always recommend carrying a sugar source in the field for all dogs in case you are presented with this situation. (See article in library.) Sometimes strategically using dextrose orally during exercise can also help keep a more steady state of blood glucose levels while exercising. It is important to talk with your vet prior to beginning a regimen like this.

As far as the condition being hereditary, I’ve never seen anything saying there is a direct link. The thing to consider, though, is the traits that lead to this condition: hyper-excitement, hard-charging, body condition, etc. are things that can be passed on, thus it is important to look at the entire dog when making reproduction choices and to not breed a dog or eliminate a dog based on one trait.

Lastly, if she is experiencing these episodes outside of the field or at home I would worry about other major medical problems that will require an extensive work-up to address.

Submitted 7/4/04:
What is the best feeding regime for a dog that will be hunting all day? A small meal in the morning, then again in the evening? 3 meals? Nothing until the end of the day? I want the dog to have energy to hunt all day but I don’t want them to be sluggish or nauseous from eating before the hunt. Please advise.

The biggest point to remember is that dogs aren’t people and you can’t project your nutritional needs onto them. This was one of the biggest hurdles for me to overcome when I started using some of these performance nutrition techniques in my own dogs.

Much of the current research indicates that a 24-hour fast may greatly benefit dogs going into a workout situation, thus if you a planning on starting your hunt in the morning make your dog’s last meal the morning before the hunt. With my own dogs I’ll typically still feed them the evening before a big hunt, but early in the day and as we get into the season I’ll typically stick to the fast. As far as the day of the hunt is concerned, I will feed them no food in the morning and will give them their entire day’s ration at the end of the day. Make sure your dog has calmed down from the hunt and is done panting before feeding them post-exercise, as feeding a dog too soon could result in serious complications, such as bloat. Typically the car ride home will be long enough for them to cool down. It is important though not to wait too long, you want to try to get them fed in close timing with the hunt to help their bodies more adequately replenish themselves.

If it is a several day hunt I will continue with the once a day feeding in the evening through the hunt. You won’t be getting the 24-hour fast prior to each workout but even the 12-15 hour fast will still have numerous benefits.

This type of feeding program will help you dog’s body optimize the nutrients in the food, both during and after the exercise. The other big benefit is that by fasting it will help empty out the dog’s digestive tract, which leads to less weight to carry around…equaling less workload. The body can also direct blood flow to the muscles where the work is being done as opposed to trying to absorb energy from the digestive tract and, most importantly, it will help cut down on loose stools. For years we thought the numerous stops for bowel movements and loose stools while hunting were stress and excitement related, but now the current theory is that the stool bouncing around in the colon is actually causing damage to the colon, which leads to diarrhea. I have noticed a huge decrease in the amount of stool my dogs have when hunting/training while on this feeding program, especially compared to my training partner who still insists on free-feeding his dogs.

As far as energy sources throughout the day see the following question for suggestions on that front.

Submitted 7/4/04:
On UJ (www.uplandjournal.com) there is a thread on “quick energy” for hunting dogs.

I’ve heard that dogs process fat better than carbs. And that cooked rice with lard formed into cubes is good, but my dog didn’t go for them. Also he didn’t go for the ProPlan Power Bars.

Here’s what I do: I filet out chicken breasts keeping the meat for the family. I then cut the skin/bones/cartilage into chunks and freeze; feeding them at least an hour before hunting and at lunch breaks of at least an hour. What’s your thinking?

First I’ll address the fats vs. carbs. One important point is to break this down into two categories, overall energy utilization and short-term utilization. On the whole, dogs utilize fat as a preferred energy source in the way that we as humans would use carbs, but as an immediate energy source (fuel for the brain, initial muscle activity etc.) dogs still need carbs. So for the day-to-day nutritional needs of an active dog I would recommend a Performance Diet with higher levels of fats and proteins to address the big picture energy needs.

For the actual performance event (field trial, day of hunting, training, etc.) I will use strategic carb feeding. This is the theory behind the performance bars on the market. Typically what I will use is 50% Dextrose (available from your vet) and give a dose about 15 minutes before going into the field and then throughout our time in the field with a goal of giving some every 30-45 minutes and then again at the end of the workout. This has worked for me, as it is easy to give (draw it up in a syringe and give orally) and it is dirt cheap compared with some of the other methods on the market. In my setter I see a noticeable difference in endurance level and energy in the field when I’m supplementing compared to when I don’t. With my chessie I haven’t bothered to attempt this, as I haven’t felt there was a need, one dog goes all out and hits the wall the other paces herself for an all day run.

There is some disagreement out there as to whether one should administer a straight simple sugar source, versus also giving protein and fat with the strategic feedings. The straight sugar camp has research that demonstrates that protein and fat when given with the carb source suppresses the body’s ability to utilize the sugar through decrease in insulin and decrease in cell uptake. The other camp says that with sugar alone you will get an insulin spike and a resulting large drop in blood sugar levels. As far as which camp is correct I can’t say, but I’ll continue to use the straight Dextrose until I’m convinced otherwise. One other note--I would talk with your veterinarian before using any of these methods to ensure you are using the correct amount in your dog and that your situation warrants the extra effort. Much of this nutrition information is targeted at those trial dogs or hunting dogs that compete a majority of the year. If I hunted my dogs just a few weekends a year I wouldn’t bother with any of this.

A comment on your current technique, you don’t mention if the stuff you are feeding the dogs is cooked??? I would be concerned with the possibility of causing a bacterial gastroenteritis from the non-cooked meat…especially chicken. The other concern I would have is the potential for obstruction whenever bones are fed to dogs, which could end a hunting season in a hurry.