Hunting edema

For many hunters, the feeling of being at one with nature, following tracks and experiencing the cooperation with a well-trained hunting dog is a unique experience. But in our eagerness to succeed and achieve our goals as hunters, we can sometimes overlook the important responsibility we have for our four-legged companions.

Man's best friend, the dog, is not immune to the stress and strain that comes with hunting. As responsible owners, it is important that we are aware of the dog's well-being during the entire hunting experience. Monitoring and managing the dog's stress level is essential to ensure that they not only join us on the hunt, but also enjoy and enjoy the activity.

Table of contents

A hunting dog out hunting with three people out on a grass field. What is hunting edema. Hunting with a dog.

What is edema?

During the hunting season, it is not uncommon for our dogs to be exposed to physical exertion and demanding conditions. One of the most common health problems that can occur in hunting dogs is edema, also known as overload syndrome. Edema occurs when the body's tissues are unable to cope with the accumulated fluid and waste products produced during intense activities.

Edema can be caused by several factors, including excessive exercise, insufficient rest periods, hot weather or lack of hydration. It usually manifests as a swelling in the extremities, especially in the paws, legs, face or neck area. The dogs may experience pain, reduced mobility and increased fatigue. In some severe cases, edema can also affect the dog's vital organs and lead to serious complications.

It is important to note that edema is not just limited to hunting dogs. It can also occur in dogs involved in other physical activities or sports. Therefore, it is crucial for all dog owners to be aware of edema, especially when it comes to hunting dogs who are more at risk due to the intense and prolonged activity they are involved in.

Symptoms of hunting edema

Symptoms may begin to appear during or immediately after hunting. First of all, you will notice that the dog is more tired than normal. As the pulmonary edema gradually worsens, the dog will have difficulty breathing, be restless and perhaps begin to cough a little. Normal breathing rate is 20-30 breaths/min during rest. Dogs with pulmonary edema will have a respiratory rate of between 40-100/min. This will persist for several hours without treatment and can in the worst case result in death. In the event of such symptoms, a veterinarian should be contacted as soon as possible.

Symptoms during hunting

  1. Unusual shortness of breath: The dog may show signs of struggling to breathe or panting excessively during the activity.
  2. Weakness or lethargy: A noticeable decrease in energy or enthusiasm during hunting, which is uncharacteristic of the dog.
  3. Reap: The onset of coughing during exertion, which may be due to lung strain.
  4. Poor performance: Inability to keep up with normal hunting pace or failure to respond to commands.

Symptoms after hunting:

  1. Continued difficulty breathing: Persistent difficulty breathing or prolonged heavy panting after activity has ceased.
  2. Foamy or blood-tinged discharge: Presence of foam or blood in nasal discharge or saliva may be a sign of pulmonary edema or bleeding.
  3. Extreme fatigue: Excessive fatigue or unwillingness to move much after the activity.
  4. Collapse or fainting: In severe cases, the dog may collapse or pass out due to insufficient oxygen circulation.

General signs to monitor:

  1. Changes in gum color: Pale, blue-tinged or excessively red gums can indicate a lack of oxygen.
  2. Behavioral changes: Any unusual behavioral changes after exertion, such as increased anxiety or confusion. 


A dog that has been diagnosed with hunting edema is likely to get it again. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog during or after hunting, it is imperative to stop the activity immediately and consult a veterinarian. Early detection and treatment is the key to managing and preventing serious complications associated with hunting edema in dogs. Regular veterinary check-ups and tailored exercise regimes can help prevent such conditions from occurring, especially in breeds prone to respiratory problems. If the dog is still to be used for hunting, it should always have bearings. 

A veterinarian sits next to a brown dog and holds it around.

Elisabeth is a veterinarian and authorized ophthalmologist with specialization in eye surgery, as well as further training in internal medicine, general surgery, oral surgery and ultrasound from the European School for Advanced Veterinary Studies in Toulouse.