Can my Dog get Frostbite?
Frostbite is a medical term used to describe damage to the skin and other tissue due to extreme cold. Frostbite tends to occur on the extremities of the bodies furthest from the heart and in tissues with plenty of exposed surface area. Dogs are not immune to frostbite, and they are most likely to get it on their paws, ears, and tail. Especially if the dog is damp or wet, there is a higher chance that the mentioned parts can get frostbite.
How to Prevent Frostbite
The smaller the dog, the harder it is to maintain its body temperature in the cold which means that small dogs have a higher chance of getting frostbite. Dogs that weigh less than 20 lbs can have a coat or sweater made for them to keep them warm. Also, dogs with too little body fat to guard against the cold such as Greyhounds and Whippets should have winter-clothing to keep the cold away.
Some dogs do not mind the cold, and may even prefer to be outside instead of inside during the cold seasons. However, there is a limit as to how long the dogs should be kept outside. Keeping any dog for too long outside in the cold increases the chances of getting frostbite.
Dogs need unfrozen water for drinking in the cold weather. There are water bowls with heaters in them to stop freezing which are suitable for dogs.
How to Treat Frostbite
- Move the dog to a place that is warm and dry as soon and quickly as possible.
- If the dog has hypothermia, first deal with it. Gently cover its body with warm, dry towels and keep hot water containers covered in towels close to the dog.
- It is not advisable to massage the affected area because this may cause tissue damage instead of helping the dog.
- If you are still outside in the cold, it is not advisable to warm the area affected by frostbite if you are not capable of maintaining its warmth. Extra exposure to the cold or having the same area unfrozen and refrozen multiple times will increase the damage done to the affected tissues.
- Regulate the temperature of the water with which you are warming the dog. The water should be warm and not scorching hot. The ideal water temperature is 104 to 108 °F which is warm enough to place your hand in the water with ease.
- Avoid direct dry heat such as a hair drier.
- Once you warm the affected area, gently and thoroughly pat it with a dry towel or blanket to dry it.
- When going to the veterinarian for additional treatment, ensure your dog is warm by covering it with dry towels or blankets which were previously warmed in the clothes drier.
- Avoid giving any pain medication to the dogs if you have not been specifically instructed to do so by your veterinarian. Several pain relievers meant for humans such as acetaminophen and aspirin are actually toxic to pets.
Any extreme temperature can pose serious and severe threats to your dog. Always use caution when exposing your dogs to the elements. They are not suited for such exposure.
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