Bird Dogs & Training  |  11/12/2019

A Head-to-Tail Preventive Health Care Guide for Your Bird Dog


Your hunting dog doesn’t come with an owner’s manual detailing specific guidelines for his or her well-being. It’s up to you to work with your veterinarian to create an optimal preventive maintenance schedule for your dog. Not only will it keep him or her healthy, it also gives you the chance to catch anything serious before it potentially becomes a major problem.

“Regularly scheduled veterinary exams are the foundation of good preventive health care,” says Purina Chief Veterinary Officer Kurt Venator. “Preventive care is especially essential for bird dogs, who are at a higher risk for certain conditions such as orthopedic injuries, lacerations and puncture wounds, foreign bodies, and gastrointestinal disease.”

Follow this checklist of routine inspections and checkups from Dr. Venator to help keep your bird dog in tiptop condition year-round.

Run a Background Check

A discussion of your bird dog’s general health history, as well as his or her lifestyle at home and in the field, with your veterinarian will pay dividends during your dog’s annual examination. Once a baseline is established, it will be easier for you to notice any changes in your dog’s eating and drinking or urination and defecation habits, a fluctuation in weight, or a shift in mobility or field performance. Likewise, your veterinarian can more readily diagnose any such behavioral or health issues.

Prevention is Paramount

To help prevent communicable diseases, fleas, ticks and intestinal parasites in your bird dog, you and your veterinarian should implement a comprehensive vaccine and parasite prevention protocol. Year-round heartworm protection also is recommended in all U.S. geographic regions.

Easy on the Eyes

Your bird dog works in environments ripe for eye injury, so be on the lookout for irritation or injury after he or she runs through brush, grass or weeds. Some breeds are predisposed to conditions such as dry eye, progressive retinal atrophy and glaucoma, so it’s also a good idea to talk with your veterinarian to learn whether your dog is at risk.

Polish Those Pearly Whites

Dental disease can be caused by poor oral hygiene or foreign bodies entering the mouth during field work, wreaking havoc on your dog’s mouth and potentially causing other systemic health issues. Cleaning your bird dogs teeth daily and following dog dental health basics are a must.

Ear to Ear

Besides routine checkups, you should also regularly clean your bird dog’s ears, especially during the warmer months when the incidence of ear infections across breeds runs high due to frequent swimming.

Brush It Off

Grooming goes far beyond vanity. Frequently brush your bird dog’s coat to maintain its vitality and remove any debris or foreign material picked up in the field. It also affords you the opportunity to look for fleas or ticks that may have burrowed into your dog’s coat.

Feed a Complete and Balanced Diet

Providing your bird dog with high quality, complete and balanced nutrition, such as Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance dog food, is the cornerstone of good health and field performance. It’s important to feed the same food year-round, adjusting the amount fed to maintain ideal body condition. In fact, Purina’s landmark life span study in dogs showed that dogs maintaining lean body condition throughout their lives can help extend their life span by nearly two years. For a dog in ideal body condition, you should be able to easily feel the ribs and view his or her waist behind the ribs, and an abdominal tuck should be visible from the side.