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Puncture wounds, especially from barbed wire, are all too common injuries. I recommend clipping the hair short around the wounds. This allows for better cleanliness and follow-up monitoring for any signs of infection. Always wash punctures thoroughly, flush with saline, if possible, and apply topical antibiotics. Any deep punctures greater than 1-2cm in depth, infected wounds, or bite wound punctures - which are at high risk for infection - will require veterinary services.

Lacerations larger than 1"(less for deep wounds) are best taken directly to a veterinarian for cleaning and suturing, if possible. Larger cuts can heal without treatment but this often results in excessive scarring and a prolonged healing time. If these wounds are bleeding badly, apply a protective pressure dressing to stop the bleeding as soon as possible. Then seek medical attention.

Lacerated tongues are frequent in warm weather as the dog's tongue becomes engorged with blood and hangs far out of the mouth for cooling. This predisposes it to cuts that will often bleed excessively due to the high blood flow to the tongue. Stop exercise immediately, and encourage the dog to drink cool water. This is usually enough to stop the bleeding because the cooling process allows the tongue to return to a more normal size with less blood flow. In the rare event that bleeding persists, do seek veterinary care.

In northern Wisconsin, where I do most of my hunting, porcupines are quite common. Therefore, removal of porcupine quills from gun dogs is also common. A small number of quills (10-20 or less depending on the dog's and the owner's pain tolerance) can be pulled with a surgical clamp or pliers. Gently spinning the quills counter clockwise as you pull helps ease removal somewhat, if there are only a few quills. If there are a larger numbers of quills, a trip to the veterinary clinic for general anesthesia and quill removal is indicated. Some dogs learn a lesson after one experience with a porcupine; some dogs get madder!

"Some dogs learn a lesson after one experience with a porcupine; some dogs get madder!"

Heat exhaustion or heat stroke is a serious risk in hot, humid weather. Frequent watering of the dog, frequent rest breaks, and breaks to swim, if this is possible in your hunting area, are important. Watch your dog more closely in hot weather for a slowing pace, a tongue that is hanging out longer than normal, uncoordination, or loss of the usual spring in its gait. Any of these signs should signal a time for a long break, if not a time to end the hunt until cooler conditions arrive.

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