Well, it looks like winter has finally arrived today, so what better day to write to you about white sand, palm trees, blue skies, sunshine and warmth?
Uh oh, I’m dreaming again! – Let’s talk about how to prevent hypothermia in dogs.
We hear about humans and hypothermia but don’t think about it affecting our dogs. After all, they are wearing a nice furry coat, and we pet parents love to dress them up in jackets, sweaters and winter booties!
Hypothermia can affect our dogs, and if left untreated, it can create additional problems. So let’s talk about how to prevent hypothermia in dogs, how to spot it, and most importantly, how to treat it!
What is Hypothermia in Dogs?
Hypothermia is when the bodies’ temperature falls and stays below its normal range. The body is losing heat faster than it can replace it. Like Frostbite – Hypothermia is a severe condition that can cause unconsciousness, shock, and even a pet’s death. Pets that are outdoors in subzero temperatures can become hypothermic.
Young puppies, senior pets, and short-haired pets may be at greater risk for Hypothermia than dogs in their adolescence.
It is also important to note that pets do not have to be swimming in icy water for hours to develop Hypothermia. Being out in the cold or staying in a cold car for too long can affect our pet’s body temperature.
Last week we discussed Frostbite, and if your pet is suffering from Frostbite, there is a good chance that they are also suffering from Hypothermia or on the verge of it. Just because your pet does not have Frostbite signs, it doesn’t mean their body temperature will not drop into Hypothermia territory.
What are the signs?
Hypothermia symptoms vary with the level of severity. Mild Hypothermia is evident through weakness, shivering, and lack of mental alertness. Moderate Hypothermia reveals characteristics such as muscle stiffness, low blood pressure, a stupor-like state, and shallow, slow breathing. Aspects of severe Hypothermia are: fixed, and dilated pupils, inaudible heartbeat, difficulty breathing, or even worse, a coma.
Avoid prolonged periods in extreme cold. REMEMBER – you may go out in a warm coat, hat, mitts, big boots that don’t allow the chill of the icy winds to come through to your feet – but what is your pet wearing? If you have a short-haired dog, please put a coat on them so they are not shivering. If you have a deep-chested dog watch out for breathing difficulties in the extreme cold, and keep the walks short and brisk and remember, they may not be as warm as you are.
What can you do for your pet?
Warm your pet using blankets, or hot water bottles wrapped in blankets or towels. NEVER place a heating pad directly on any animal. Always wrap it in a towel or blanket first. A hairdryer on medium heat works well too.
REMEMBER – if your pet is weak, they will not move away if something is too hot on them. Monitor their body temperature rectally every 10 – 15 minutes until their body temperature is back to normal (approx 38.5C). DO NOT OVERHEAT your dog. That can be just as bad as Hypothermia. Remove their blankets to keep them at a comfortable room temperature.
If you ever suspect that your pet might be hypothermic even after they have warmed up, you should seek veterinary care as soon as possible. The quicker you act, the better it will be for your pup!
If you don’t want to get out in the cold, let us take your dog on a quick walk for you! Check out our dog walking services.
Morag is the owner and founder of York Regions most trusted premier in-home pet care and dog walking companies. In 2000 she saw a need for an alternative to kennels, catteries for family pets in the area and has always believed that pets are much happier and less stressed staying in their own familiar environment. Morag and her team are all certified in Pet 1st Aid and CPR, she also offers continuous training to her team members through online and hands on pet care and pet behaviour and care courses. Morag has earned her certificate in Professional Pet Sitting, Professional Dog Walking and Canine Attendant training. She has lived in the Newmarket/Aurora area since 1991 is a wife, a mother of 2 adult children and a grandmother of 2 delightful little balls of energy. She has also been owned by fish, birds, mice, rats, cats, dogs, gerbils and guinea pigs and is an advocate for all living creatures. In her spare time she likes to be involved in her community and events travelling, reading and cooking.