Beware These 6 Bird Dog Health Hazards


Some bird dog hazards are obvious. But many lurk under the radar. Take heed of these 6 dangerous conditions, and protect your bird dog from them.

Some bird dog hazards are right there in front of you — extreme weather, icy bodies of water, barbed wire fencing, snakes, porcupines — while others aren’t as outwardly apparent. 

But other hazards lurk under the radar. The following six dangerous conditions can potentially wreak havoc on your hunting partner in days, hours or even minutes. Learn the warning signs of each. For some of these hazards, preventive care or a well-stocked first-aid kit is sufficient. But for others, you’ll need to hightail it to your veterinarian, or one in the area you’re traveling.


lasto is a systemically occurring fungal infection caused by mold associated with moist, slightly acidic soil, and decomposing organic matter such as wood and leaves. The mold releases microscopic spores, and results in infection when inhaled. Signs include troubled breathing, limping or lameness, loss of appetite, and sores on the nose, mouth or paw pads. If you detect any of these symptoms in your dog, an immediate trip to your veterinarian’s office is crucial.

Exercise-Induced Collapse

A hereditary condition most prevalent in Labrador Retrievers, EIC occurs when a dog loses control of his or her rear limbs during high-intensity exercise. DNA testing can determine whether a dog has EIC. Signs, which widely occur in a highly energetic dog, include wobbliness in the back legs and a rocking gait with long, wide strides. Fortunately, these signs are not painful to the dog. But at the first indication, stop activity and rest your dog for 10 to 25 minutes until he or she returns to normal.

Gastric Dilation-Volvulus

Bloat, as it is more commonly known, occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with excess air, builds pressure, twists, and flips. Deep, narrowly chested large- and giant-sized breeds are most at-risk for this condition, and its cause remains unknown. If your dog shows warning signs, such as an enlarged abdomen, labored breathing, salivating, vomiting, weak pulse, and pale nose or mouth, do not waste any time. An emergency trip to a veterinarian could help save your dog’s life.

Tick-Borne Diseases

Highly prevalent, tick-borne diseases are found in all 50 states and share a common thread in that they are transmitted in as little as three to six hours of a tick bite. Signs of illness vary by the disease and occur two to five months after a tick bite. The best antidotes are to use tick preventives, conduct head-to-tail body checks after being outdoors, remove ticks properly, and screen annually for infection.

Grass-Awn Migration Disease

This potentially life-threatening condition occurs when bacteria-carrying “mean seeds” get tangled in a dog’s coat and enter the body via inhalation or ingestion, or by burrowing into the skin. The seeds migrate through soft tissues, which could, in turn, fatally pierce a vital organ. Signs include decreased performance, lethargy, fever and weight loss. Thoroughly brush your dog’s coat after field work (especially in unmowed vegetation) and familiarize yourself with the types of harmful seeds to help avoid the illness.

Cyanobacteria Poisoning

Highly toxic pond scum, known as blue-green algae, blooms in warm, stagnant water. Avoid any bodies of water with foam or scum skimming the surface, because a dog could accidentally swallow a mouthful while swimming or ingest a few drops while grooming him- or herself afterward. If you suspect your dog has been exposed to contaminated water — indicated by vomiting, spasms and skin abrasions — an abrupt trip to your veterinarian is critical to prevent serious nervous and digestive system damage.