As fall hunting season opens, some dogs are joining their owners on the hunt for game, while others are hunkering down on the couch. But, the woods, fields, and water bodies can be dangerous for dogs of all lifestyles during hunting season, so you must take every precaution before heading out to keep you and your furry pal safe from injury and illness.

Hunting season safety tips for pet dogs

For some game species, early hunting season limits weapons to short-range tools, like crossbows. Despite this shortened range, your dog can still be injured should they wander from your side. The following tips can keep your four-legged friend safe this fall hunting season:

  • Keep your dog by your side — No matter how well-trained your dog, you should restrain them with a leash and keep them by your side when out walking. Your dog may run at a sudden gunshot crack or a bolting deer, so limit their freedom with a long line.
  • Outfit your dog in bright colors — Hunter orange or pink are the most visible colors to area hunters and you and your dog should wear vests and in these bright colors while out walking during hunting season. 
  • Place a bell on your dog’s collar — A bell on your dog’s collar will prevent hunters from confusing them with a wild animal, and notify nearby hunters that a pet is in the area.
  • Avoid common hunting grounds — If your dog loves to explore a local nature preserve, you must find an alternative for hunting season. Many nature preserves and parks allow public hunting, while some private property owners also allow hunters on their land. Play it safe by walking your dog only in urban locations during hunting season.

Hunting season safety tips for hunting dogs

A pal with an exceptional sense of smell and heightened hearing at your side can be an incredible experience when hunting. However, your canine hunting companion is on the front line of danger. Although hunters are encouraged to verify their target before shooting, you should implement the following safety measures for extra protection for yourself and your four-legged friend:

  • Stay visible — Ensure you and your dog are clearly visible by wearing blaze orange or pink outfits. Whenever possible, choose clear paths through wooded areas, and stay visible to other nearby hunters.
  • Watch for noise aversion signs — Most likely, you will know before hunting season that your dog is scared of gunshots, but dogs can develop noise aversion later in life. Watch for signs, such as trembling, clinging to your side, excessive panting, eliminating, or trying to escape or hide, which indicate they are scared of loud noises.
  • Keep your dog away from carcasses — Whether an injured animal has perished, or the remains of a field-dressed deer are left behind, your dog will likely sniff out these tantalizing scents. While coyotes, wolves, and other scavengers eat animal carcasses, never allow your dog to gnaw on bones or scraps found outside. Your dog can easily pick up a virus, bacteria, or parasite from a carcass, or develop a gastrointestinal (GI) obstruction by ingesting bones or fur. Plus, you never know when other wild animals are nearby, waiting eagerly for their own meal. 
  • Protect your dog from infectious diseases — If your dog spends the day diving into lakes, drinking from puddles, or swimming across streams, they can easily be exposed to leptospirosis, a bacterial disease transmitted via wildlife urine. Leptospirosis can cause kidney and liver failure, and can be passed from your dog to you. Your dog can also contract distemper and rabies from wildlife species, so ensure they are vaccinated regularly to protect them from infectious diseases.
  • Shield your dog from injuries — Abrasions, punctures, and lacerations are common in hunting dogs. As they tear through thick undergrowth in pursuit of prey, their skin can easily be pierced by thorns, sticks, or barbed wire, so ensure they are protected with a vest and booties.

Proper prevention is key to keeping your dog safe during hunting season. Protect your four-legged friend from infectious diseases and parasites by scheduling their preventive care visit with our Wales Animal Clinic team.