Keeping Your Hunting Dog Hydrated

Throughout the years I've tried many different ways to keep my dogs hydrated while in the field. Living in a relatively dry state like Utah, we don't always have the luxury of having a stream or other means of water nearby when we're out and about. If your not careful, it can become a very dangerous situation and deadly for your dog if it gets overheated.

I've tried everything from water bladders to collapsable bowls to keep my dogs watered. Sharing my water bladders doesn't work for me. I don't like sharing the spout with my dog. That is just gross. Call me selfish or whatever but after seeing the things my dogs eat and put in their mouths in the field I don't want their mouths anywhere near my personal drinking water.

The last couple of years I've exclusively used gatorade sport top bottles to water my dogs when I'm in the field. I really like them. They are cheap, last forever and are strong enough to hold up to my dogs teeth. They hold 24 oz of water. For long hot days I will carry 2 per dog. That's 96 oz of water, enough for the worst water pig of a dog. I have several bouncing around my truck bed at all times. And as a bonus is my kids think I'm the coolest when I buy them a bottle of Gatorade before we go hiking or whatever. When the kids finish it I just rinse it out and then I have another water bottle for the dogs.

I also carry a 96 oz water bladder during most chukar hunts, so all together that is 192 oz. of water at my disposal. It weighs a lot and I usually dump half of it out at the end of the day but if I ever need it I'm happy it's there. For short hunts or cold days (below freezing) I usually only carry half that amount. One bottle for each dog and a 64 oz. bladder.

One thing you need to remember about hydrating your dog with a squirt bottle is you need to hold the bottle low enough so that the bottle is level with the dogs face while the dog is drinking. If you hold it too far above your dog's mouth the dog could easily choke on the water and will spend the next minute or so coughing it up. Hold it level and let the water drain out into your dogs mouth rather than squirting it. The dog will drink more water and waste less. The below picture illustrates the wrong way to do it. Hold the bottle lower and it wont be a problem.

On hot days I'll water my dogs about every 15-minutes or whenever they ask for it. Both of my current dogs will actually run up to me, sit down and wait for a drink. It can get annoying but I'd rather have them stay cool and keep their noses wet then to be overheated and get themselves into trouble.

Another great trick to use on really hot days is to bring along a standard spray bottle full of water and mist your dogs undercarriage (belly and chest) after watering them. The more water evaporation off the dogs skin the cooler the dog will stay.

Stay Safe and Happy Hunting.

Update:  I've changed up my dog water regimen since writing this post. The last several years I've been using Gatorade squeeze bottles. They come in 32 and 28 oz sizes. They last forever, are easy to refill and carry and easier to squirt water into your dog's mouth. I've found them much better than the sport top bottles. They hold more water and are more durable. They are pretty cheap and you can buy them almost anywhere. 


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