Frostbite and Hypothermia in Pets

Did you know that your pet can get frostbite and hypothermia?

With this extreme winter cold we are experiencing, please be aware of the amount of time you and your pet spend outside. Not only can frostbite set in, but pets can also suffer from hypothermia.

The primary areas that are affected are the ears,paws,scrotum and tail. Short haired dogs,small dogs,wet dogs,dogs sensitive to cold weather  and dogs that are outside with no protection are more prone. Cats are also susceptible, but generally stay inside when it is very cold. Usually they put one foot in the snow, jump around and realize that they are far too civilized to be out in this crazy weather. They are very sensible!Just make sure on cold nights or if a storm is coming you keep them inside.

It is not easy to spot frostbite in an animal as hair covers their skin, but signs to look for are very pale skin which is swollen and cold to the touch.

When an animal becomes cold, they shiver to produce heat,their hair stands straight up for extra insulation and their vessels constrict. Vasoconstriction allows for blood to  go to the major is the "survival instinct" stepping in,possibly at  the expense of the tail,ears or feet. Clinical signs of hypothermia include shivering,lethargy,muscle stiffness,lack of co-ordination,decreased heart and respiratory rate,dilated pupils,collapse and coma.

Hypothermia and frostbite, at the very minimal, can be treated by slowly warming your animal up so that their core body temperature returns to normal. Try wrapping them in a warm towel or giving them a warm bath. Placing a blanket /towel in a dryer,heating it for a few minutes and then wrapping your pet in it, is also a gentle way to get their body temperature back up. Do NOT apply anything hot to frostbite areas,as not only can it burn the skin, but it is also very painful!

Please bring them to your veterinarian, so they can  determine if any further treatment is warranted.

The way to prevent these conditions is to not leave pets outside in freezing temps,when they do go out put a jacket on them and monitor for any clinical signs of frostbite or hypothermia.Use your common sense - if it too cold for us chances are it is too cold for them!