Bird Dogs - Health Matters
The Upland Almanac|Spring 2021
Joint Relief Made Easy
Dr. Hank Clemmons

Recently a hunting buddy wrote with a question whose answer you might find helpful.

“Hi Hank,

“What is a good thing to give an older dog after a hunt to ease fatigue, pain, etc.? A single baby aspirin? Meadow is 12 now and still hunts hard, but I would like to be able to give her some sort of med aid after the hunt. Recommendations appreciated.”

This is a great question because it can be answered simply by saying, “Yes, a single baby aspirin is fine,” or it can involve a complex, multi-faceted answer.

As far as older hunting dogs go, there are several things you can combine to help them from getting stiff and achy after a hard day in the field. Giving them a daily dose of a chondroprotective agent containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate always helps, even when not hunting. High-quality, brand name products such as GLC 1000 or Cosequin provide the building blocks for thicker joint fluid, thus increasing its lubricating quality. In my opinion, the amounts of the agents that manufacturers add to dog foods aren’t enough to have any real effect. The cheaper products are typically worth what you pay for them – not much.

Another thing that helps and should also be done for younger dogs is to provide some sort of glycogen replacement nutrition at the end of the hunting day. This keeps the muscles from filling up with lactic acid, stiffening and cramping. There are various products on the market, but a tablespoon of peanut butter works well and won’t swell in their stomach and cause bloat. It’s best to give glycogen replacements within about an hour (30 minutes is best) of ending the hunting day. A full meal (dog food) should not be given for at least two hours after hunting to allow the dog’s core body temperature and gastric functions to return to normal, which will help avoid bloat.

To answer the question about anti-inflammatories after hunting, I would say that baby aspirin is fine if used sparingly, but it’s not the safest or the most effective product on the market.

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