Friday, March 20, 2015

Dog Health – Hypothermia & Frostbite

The following are health concerns you should be made aware of. Don’t consider it a full guide on how to manage the situations but to simply provide some tips to remember.


The dog’s cooling system isn’t as efficient as humans making them more susceptible to high temperatures. Paws do release some perspiration however it’s their tongue that’s crucial during the cooling. Their tongues swell to increase the surface area allowing more air to pass over it. Blood vessels within the tongue distribute cool blood throughout the body. Panting rapidly exchanges the hot air for cooler air.

If your dog exhibits any of the following symptoms during high temperatures it’s likely they’re suffering from heatstroke. Rapid mouth breathing, heart or pulse rate increased, vomiting, thickened saliva, reddened gums, dazed expression, or moisture accumulating on feet.

For milder cases you can attempt to cool your dog down by removing them from the warm environment and placing them in a cooler one. Provide plenty of fresh cool water. If they still show signs of being unsteady or still have a high temperature you can give them a cool bath or shower. Avoid cold water as it can often cause more harm than good causing the peripheral blood vessels to constrict and slow down the cooling process.

It’s crucial that you seek help immediately if these techniques don’t help as it can be a matter of life or death.


Short coated dogs like the ‘pit bull’ have little to insulate them for long in extreme cold weather especially if there’s no shelter and precipitation. Their bodies will drop below 100 and they shiver and become fatigued.

If your dog is showing signs that they are in trouble due to the extreme cold weather wrap them in something such a blanket, towel, or anything similar. Bring the dog into a warm room and begin rubbing their fur dry with a towel. Blow dryers set to a warm setting may be used as long as it’s not too hot. Gradually raise their body temperatures back up to 100 degrees. You can’t accomplish this by applying hot water bottles or warm packs to their body. Using the lowest setting and keeping a close eye on your dog you can use an electric blanket.

When all techniques have been attempted and the temperatures have not improved or your dog becomes unconscious don’t waste any time, rush to the vet immediately.


In extreme temperatures dog extremities like toes, ears, scrotum, and tails can be affected. The blood supply to the exposed area diminishes and the skin turns pale.

Apply towels that have been soaked in tepid water to the affected area for about 15-20 minutes. Avoid aggravating the sore are by not rubbing or squeezing. When the circulation does return the skin is often swollen, red, and itchy causing a great deal of discomfort or even pain.

If nothing helps its crucial seek help immediately to avoid amputation or death. The vet will most likely prescribe painkillers and antibiotics.

Disclaimer – In no way am I claiming to be an expert on these topics. These are only informational articles written to help dog owners. It’s recommended that you always do your own research and consult with your veterinarian for more detailed information.

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