Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Hypothermia in Canines

Hypothermia is a dangerous drop in body temperature and can be caused by more than just being outside in the cold for long periods of time. There are a lot of factors that play into whether or not your dog is at risk of hypothermia, some of them include:
  • Very young or old dogs.
  • Dogs under anesthesia.
  • Smaller breeds, because they experience faster loss of body heat. 
  • Diseases of the hypothalamus (example: hypothyroidism). The hypothalamus is responsible for regulating and maintaining body temperature. 
  • Shock
  • And... of course... if your dog has been out in the cold or the skin/ fur has been wet for a long period of time.
So, how do you know if your dog has hypothermia? A dog's normal body temperature is higher than a human's. The normal range is from 101-102.5F. When it drops to a human range of body temperature (97.6- 99.6F), they are in danger of hypothermia. In fact, if your dog's body temperature drops below 98F, you should seek a veterinarian immediately.

The first signs of hypothermia is excessive shivering and lethargy. You should also check for frostbite: When areas of the skin, particularly the tail, ears and paws, become pale, gray and/ or bluish. These areas can also feel cold or brittle and be painful when touched. Sometimes, the frost bit areas will also swell and form blisters. To check your dog's body temperature, click this link.

Here is a handy temperature chart. Remember if your dog is below 98F, TAKE THEM TO THE VET.

What to Do:
(Remember, if your dog's temperature is below 98F, seek a veterinarian immediately!)
  1. Throw some blankets in the dryer to warm them up. Then, wrap your dog in the warm blankets.
  2. Wrap a warm water bottle in a towel and place on your dog's stomach. Do not place the warmed water bottle directly on the stomach without wrapping it. This may cause a burn on your dog's stomach.
  3. If your dog is alert, give him/her warm fluids to drink. 
  4. Try to keep your dog still. Moving around will cause more body heat to be lost.
  5. Take your dog's temperature every 10 minutes. Once your dog is at a normal temperature, take them to the veterinarian to check for long term damage. 
Winter can be a wonderful time to go out hiking and playing in the snow, but just because your dog has fur, does not mean they can withstand extreme temperatures. Always pay attention to the signs your dog is giving you that they may be cold. In addition, prepare your dog for cold weather. investing in a good dog coat and booties is always a good idea if you are going to be outside for a long duration of time. Lastly, never leave your dog unattended outside in the cold.

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