Take your dog into the woods enough, and eventually he is going to get injured.
The Ultimate Adventure Companion
There are already a lot of things to keep in mind if you want to stay healthy and happy when off in the woods, from proper hydration, to managing blisters or other foot issues, to responding to unexpected emergencies that arise, major or minor.
And while those of us who own dogs love to take them along—an exuberant canine adds an element of joy to any hike, ski or other outdoor adventure—an energetic companion also means there is another being you need to care for on the trail.
Dogs love to run and romp and play, and they’re not known for their ability to foresee consequences. If your dog spots another animal—squirrel, skunk porcupine or even a moose—unless you have him on a leash or under superb voice control, he will likely try to engage.
Take your dog into the woods enough, and eventually he is going to get injured. Dogs can’t care for themselves beyond a quick lick of a wound, so you need to be prepared to manage injuries and emergencies in the field.
“Prevention and preparedness should be your driving principles,” says Vermont-based veterinarian Rachel Brodlie. “Before you go, make sure that your dog is up for the adventure. If he’s older, arthritic or just out of shape, start with smaller adventures. And know what’s ‘normal’ for your dog,”—his lumps, bumps and quirks. Brodlie says to always be sure that you dog has proper identification—a sturdy collar with tags and/or a microchip. An up-to-date rabies vaccine is essential for your dog’s safety, your safety, and the safety of your vet (rabies is fatal), as well as routine flea, tick and heartworm preventatives.
“If you think something is wrong with your dog, but you’re not sure what it is, do a quick snout to tail examination; you can diagnose most problems if you take the time to look carefully,” says Randy Acker, author of Field Guide to Dog First Aid: Emergency Care for the Hunting, Working, and Outdoor Dog. “And whatever you do, do not panic. It won’t help you or your dog.”
Here, we've rounded up 10 of the most common dog injuries, and explain how to treat them in the field. (Note: If your dog is in serious pain, or what you need to do to treat him is going to hurt, bring out the muzzle. Even the most loving companions can bite when injured.)
Grasp the quill as close to your dog's skin as you can with a pair of pliers and pull. Do not wiggle or rock a quill or any other foreign body you are attempting to remove from your dog. Place your fingers around the base of the quill and hold the skin taught for leverage. Look for quills on the roof of your dog’s mouth, as well as under the tongue and around the teeth. Brace your dog's mouth in such a way that he can’t bite. If your dog does not have quills in its mouth, muzzle him with a piece of webbing or a lead. Dogs in pain will often bite, even someone they know well, and even when you are trying to help. Clean the spots where you’ve removed quills with alcohol or iodine. If the dog is in excessive discomfort, administer a pain medication prescribed by or previously discussed with your vet.