Health Considerations for Sporting Dogs

| CJ Silvasi

Sporting dogs love the outdoors, and with that comes the potential for accidents and injuries. Here are great ways to keep your hunting dog safe, fit, and healthy.


Around the US, the start of fall means the start of hunting season. For many sporting dogs, this is their time to shine, but what constitutes a “sporting dog”? Well, to simplify it, the sporting group is defined by most kennel clubs as dogs that were specifically bred and trained to assist their humans with hunting. This could be by flushing, retrieving, or identifying (pointing) game, depending on the dog’s breed.

The common denominator here is that sporting dogs love to be outdoors, especially in the woods or water. Because of this, there are additional health and safety measures to take with your sporting dog, whether they’re your hunting buddy, hiking partner, or fellow outdoors enthusiast.

Flea & Tick Prevention

Pet owners know the importance of keeping fleas off pets, but those who live in suburban areas may not think about ticks. Tick-borne diseases can cause serious conditions and may even be fatal, so if your dog loves the outdoors, prevention is doubly important. In several areas of the country, especially the southern states that are wet and warm, ticks can be dangerous all year long. If you take your pet into the woods or tall, grassy areas, make sure they are up to date on all their flea and tick prevention.

Take the pets you leave at home into consideration as well, because ticks can latch onto you or your clothing and then travel to your pets. If you are an avid outdoors lover, make sure all your pets, including stay-at-home dogs and cats, are protected. Talk to your vet about the best option for your lifestyle.

Keep up with Vaccinations & Heartworm Medications

All pet owners know the importance of vaccinations for their pet’s health and wellness, but for dogs that are interacting with wild animals or even other pets on a regular basis, they are critical. In addition to the well-known vaccines like rabies and parvo, talk to your vet about any other vaccines that may be helpful in your area.

Heartworms are spread through the bite of a mosquito, so keeping up with heartworm testing and prevention is a good practice for all pet owners, but if you take your dog outside a lot or live in a humid climate, they are essential. If you haven’t already, get your dog tested and prescribed heartworm medication before heartworms become an issue.

Keep Your Dog Fit and Healthy

Like any other well-trained athlete, you dog’s physical needs will be different from others. Keep your dog in shape with year-round activities and play, but also learn what type of stretches will be best post-exercise. Your dog will be using a lot of energy and, just like humans, will need to stay hydrated, so bring food and water along on your adventures to keep them in top sporting shape.

Invest in GPS Collars for Your Dog

If you take your dog off-leash in the woods for hunting or hiking, be sure to invest in a long-range GPS collar so you can locate the dog if they get lost. Many options pair with your phone or have their own tracking device. Don’t stop there though, make sure their every-day collar has 2 points of contact should the GPS fail. While you’re at it, get your dog microchipped so if someone else finds them or the collar comes off, you will be contacted to pick them up. By covering all the bases, you are more likely to get your dog back faster and safer.

Build a First-Aid Kit for Your Dog

If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you probably have a first-aid kit in your vehicle at the ready in case of injury. But do you have a first-aid kit for your dog? Just like humans, accidents can happen on the trail or in the woods, so keep a separate kit ready for your pooch. Don’t forget to put your vet’s contact information in the kit so it’s easy to locate should you need them, and if you’re traveling away from home, research the area's vet options, so you can save time in the event of an incident.

Any time you spend with your furry best friend is time well spent. If you share a passion for the outdoors, take note of the above so you both can have fun and safe adventures any time of the year.

Take some of the stress out of pet ownership with Accident & Illness Coverage from AKC Pet Insurance (underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company). Our pet insurance plans are designed to be there when you need them, allowing you to focus more on the health of your pet and less on costly veterinary bills. Click here for a quote today!

CJ Silvasi

CJ has always wanted to be a writer. She even threatened to drop out after her first day of kindergarten when they weren’t immediately going to teach her to read and write. Fortunately, she stayed in school, earned her degree in Creative Writing from Christopher Newport University, and now gets to live her best life with her husband, 3 Japanese Chins, and cat writing for AKC Pet Insurance.


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