106 Hwy 22 South P.O. Box 477,
Mapleton, MN 56065

(507) 524-3748
(incl After Hour Emergency)

Blog/Health Tips

Getting Your Hunting Dog in Shape

The crops are turning from green to gold, the trees are turning color, and I even noticed some geese heading south. It’s hard to believe but hunting season is right around the corner, and now is the time to make sure your dog is on track to be ready for all that fun.

The fact that your dog will get out of the truck and push hard on the first day of the season means that he’s a normal pal who will go to extremes to please his owner – it does not mean that he’s in shape for a physically challenging weekend. Below is a guide to help make sure your dog is in shape physically.

REMEMBER – it takes a few weeks for muscles to strengthen, but it takes much longer for tendons and ligaments to strengthen because they have less blood supply. Allowing your dog to go harder than he is ready puts those ACL ligaments and flexor/extensor tendons at high risk!

In the chart below, the “Minutes / Exercise Period” is the time spent running through weeds and tall grass. Going for a walk each day is exercise, but is not preparation for hunting. So the chart assumes that the dog has not been exercising regularly, if yours has then skip ahead two weeks on the schedule. Use your judgment – if the schedule says to increase exercise time but your dog is not ready, then wait to increase the exercise period.

Optimal weight for hunting dogs is when you can easily feel the ribs behind the shoulder blades without having to push much with your fingers, but cannot see any ribs.

“Getting Fit for Hunting Season” Schedule
Week Age (Years) Overweight? Minutes / Exercise Period (3 periods per Week)
Week 1 <6 No 30
  <6 Yes 15
  >5 No 30
  >5 Yes 15
Week 2 <6 No 60
  <6 Yes 30
  >5 No 30
  >5 Yes 15
Week 3 <6 No Ready to Hunt!
  <6 Yes 60
  >5 No 60
  >5 Yes 30
Week 4 <6 No Ready to Hunt!
  <6 Yes 60
  >5 No Ready to Hunt!
  >5 Yes 60
Week 5 <6 No Ready to Hunt!
  <6 Yes Ready to Hunt!
  >5 No Ready to Hunt!
  >5 Yes 60

By week 6 all of the above categories should be ready to hunt (assuming no health problems including arthritic stiffness).

Some reminders:

  • Do treat your hunting dog for pain/stiffness – call us with any questions on this.
  • Do not use aspirin, Tylenol, or Ibuprofen.
  • A humid 70 degree day is worse than an 85 degree day with no humidity.
  • Assure access to water.
  • Use vests / wraps to protect from lacerations, torn dewclaws, etc.
  • Have all toenails short.
  • Lacerations – get as much debris out as possible, wrap if applicable; if it needs to be sutured then get to a vet within 24 hours. Do not glue.
  • Use veterinary tear replacement fluid to flush debris from eyes at the end of each half day of hunting. If your dog is squinting/painful in and eye, have a vet check it for corneal scratches or weed-ons.
  • Enforce breaks – your dog will not quit when he should, he needs you to be a good judge of that.

Call us if you have any questions!!!

Good luck and enjoy the time outside with your hunting Pal!

Mon, Tue, Thurs: 7:15am to 6:30pm|Wednesday: 7:15am to 8:30pm|Friday: 7:15am to 5:00pm|Saturday: 8:00am to 2:00pm
EMERGENCIES: Call normal clinic number: (507) 524-3748 and press the button for emergencies (we have a vet on call 24/7).