How to Conduct a Tailgate Exam for Bird Dogs

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A tailgate exam is like health insurance for your hardworking bird dog. By putting a dog on the tailgate of your truck to thoroughly examine him or her from head to toe after a day afield, you can identify potential injuries and take the necessary steps toward early treatment. 
 
Follow these steps to complete a whole-body tailgate exam:
  • Start at the head and neck. Turn the dog’s head from side to side looking for muscle or disk problems
  • Check for back pain by running your hands along the dog’s spine
  • Lift the front legs to check range of motion in the shoulders. Flex the legs back and rotate them out
  • Look for cuts, bumps and scars all over the body, particularly the elbows and hocks
  • Check eyes and nose for seeds, grass or other field debris
  • Closely examine the feet, looking at the paws, pads, nail bed and webbing. Look for tears, cuts or signs of pain or swelling
Note that dogs with a minor injury should take about two weeks off from working for rest. It is always better to prevent problems associated with overtraining than to have to treat them. Promising bird dogs will not achieve their potential in the field if they are overtrained. 
 
You should also monitor body condition to ensure balance between proper nutrition and exercise. Periodically give your dog a quick examination to monitor his or her weight by running your hand along the dog’s side, as if you are petting him or her. Pressing gently, you should be able to count your dog’s ribs as your run your hand over them. Look at your dog objectively. When viewed from above, does his or her body angle in front of the hips, or has the dog lost his or her waist?
 
To keep dogs in lean body condition, it’s crucial to feed a complete and balanced high-performance dog food, such as Purina Pro Plan SPORT Performance 30/20 Formula. The Purina Pro Plan SPORT portfolio is designed to provide optimal nutrition for your hardworking bird dog. Visit proplan.com/dogs/platforms/sport to learn more about the formulas. Then, let Purina know how the Purina Pro Plan SPORT nutritional platform has helped your hardworking bird dog achieve success in the field by writing a review at proplan.com/reviews