As a responsible gundog owner, keeping your canine companion healthy and happy is a top priority. Whether you enjoy hunting, field trials, or just going for walks, it’s important to perform a post-exercise assessment or “Outing Checkover” to ensure that your dog is in good condition. In this post, we’ll discuss the importance of performing a post-exercise assessment and provide some tips to help you keep your gundog healthy.
Why Perform a Post-Exercise Assessment?
Gundogs are active and athletic dogs, which means they require regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. However, exercise also puts stress on their bodies, which can lead to injuries and other health issues. Performing a post-exercise assessment is an important way to catch any issues early and ensure your dog stays healthy.
A post-exercise assessment involves a thorough examination of your gundog after any physical activity, such as hunting, training, competing or a long walk. By performing this assessment, you can identify any injuries or issues that may have occurred during the activity, and take steps to address them before they become more serious.
Performing a Post-Exercise Assessment: Step by Step
Performing a post-exercise assessment involves several steps to ensure a thorough examination of your gundog. Here are the general steps to follow:
Start at the Nose
Begin by examining your dog’s nose and mouth for any signs of injury or irritation. Make sure the nostrils are clear, and check their teeth and gums for any issues.
Check the Eyes
Look into your dog’s eyes for any redness, discharge, or foreign objects. Check the eyelids and surrounding areas for cuts, scratches, or other injuries.
Inspect the Ears
Gently lift your dog’s ear flaps and check for any signs of irritation or discharge. Look for any foreign objects, such as seeds or ticks, and make sure the ear canals are clear.
Examine the Feet
Check your dog’s paws and pads for cuts, abrasions, or other injuries. Look for any foreign objects, such as thorns or burrs, and make sure there are no signs of swelling or tenderness.
Inspect the Legs and Body
Check your dog’s legs and body for any signs of injury, such as limping or tenderness. Look for any cuts or scratches, and check their tongue for any signs of discomfort. Look for small twigs and thorns caught up, especially in thick coats.
Look for Ticks
Check your dog’s fur for any ticks, which can hide in hard-to-reach places. Be sure to check their ears, between their toes, and under their collar. We have a full article on ticks here : Keeping Your Gundog Tick Free and Healthy
As you perform the check over, make note of any issues or injuries you find. This will help you keep track of your dog’s health and any changes over time.
Carry A First Aid Kit
Carrying a field first aid kit for your gundog is a smart idea. Accidents can happen, and having the right supplies on hand can make a big difference in the outcome of an injury or illness. A field first aid kit for dogs should include items such as gauze, bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, and tick removal tools. Make sure to keep the kit stocked and easily accessible during outdoor activities to ensure the health and safety of your furry companion. Field and Fireside also sell a Dog First Aid Kit.
When to Seek Veterinary Attention
While a post-exercise assessment can help you catch many issues early, there are some situations when you should seek veterinary attention right away. These include:
- Severe or persistent limping
- Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
- Signs of dehydration
- Any signs of a broken bone or serious injury
- Sudden weakness or collapse
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to seek veterinary attention right away.
Warming Up and Cooling Down Your Gundog
Warming up and cooling down your gundog before and after exercise is important for several reasons:
- Injury Prevention: Warming up before exercise can help to prepare your gundog’s muscles, tendons, and joints for activity. It increases blood flow to the muscles, which helps to reduce the risk of injury during exercise. Cooling down after exercise can also help to prevent injuries, as it allows the body to gradually return to its resting state and reduces the risk of muscle soreness and stiffness.
- Increased Performance: A proper warm-up can help to increase your gundog’s performance during exercise. By gradually increasing the intensity of the activity, you can help to improve their flexibility, range of motion, and overall physical capacity. This can lead to improved endurance, speed, and agility during exercise.
- Improved Recovery: Cooling down after exercise can help to improve your gundog’s recovery time. By reducing the intensity of the activity and engaging in static stretching and gentle massage, you can help to reduce muscle soreness and tension, promote circulation, and speed up the recovery process.
- Mental Preparation: Warming up and cooling down your gundog can also help to mentally prepare them for exercise. It provides a routine that they can recognize and helps to focus their attention on the activity. This can lead to a more positive experience and increased motivation to participate in physical activity.
Warming up and cooling down your gundog is an important part of keeping them healthy and happy. You can learn more about this in our course Fitness Plans For Working Dogs
Warming Up Your Gundog
- Start Slow: Begin with a few minutes of light activity, such as walking or stretching. This will help to warm up your gundog’s muscles and prepare them for more strenuous exercise.
- Increase Intensity Gradually: After a few minutes of light activity, gradually increase the intensity of the exercise. This could include jogging, running, or playing fetch. Avoid sudden bursts of activity, as this can increase the risk of injury.
- Engage in Dynamic Stretches: Dynamic stretches involve movement and can help to increase flexibility and range of motion.
- Use Positive Reinforcement: Encourage your gundog with positive reinforcement, such as treats or praise, to keep them motivated and engaged during the warm-up.
Cooling Down Your Gundog Post-Exercise
- Gradually Decrease Intensity: After your gundog has finished exercising, gradually decrease the intensity of the activity. This could include slowing down the pace of walking or jogging.
- Engage in Static Stretches: Static stretches involve holding a position for a short period of time and can help to reduce muscle tension and soreness. For example, you could have your gundog perform a seated hamstring stretch or a standing quad stretch.
- Use Gentle Rubdown After Exercise: Gently massaging your gundog’s muscles can help to increase blood flow and reduce soreness and tension. Use gentle pressure and circular motions to massage their legs and back.
- Provide Water and Rest: After exercise, make sure to provide your gundog with fresh, clean water and a comfortable place to rest. This will help them to recover and rehydrate after the activity.
By properly warming up and cooling down your gundog before and after exercise, you can help to prevent injuries, reduce soreness, and promote overall health and wellness. You can find a great article on this topic by Matthew Brunke, DVM, CCRP, CVPP, CVA here.
Performing a post-exercise assessment is an important part of keeping your gundog healthy and happy. By checking your dog’s eyes, ears, feet, legs, and body after any physical activity, you can catch any issues early and ensure that they receive the care they need.
So, the next time you go out with your gundog, be sure to perform a post-exercise assessment and keep them healthy and happy for years to come!
Remember, prevention is key when it comes to your gundog’s health, and a post-exercise assessment is a simple way to catch any issues early and ensure that they receive the care they need. By taking the time to perform this assessment after every physical activity, you’ll be doing your part to keep your canine companion in the best possible condition.
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