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 body furthest from the heart and in tissues with plenty of exposed surface area. You already know that humans can get frostbite, but can dogs get frostbite?
So, Can Dogs Get Frostbite?
Dogs are not immune to frostbite, and they are most likely to get it on their paws, ears, and tail. There is a higher chance of frostbite if a dog gets damp or wet.
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 or bought 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 are less sensitive to the cold, and may even prefer to be outside during the winter. However, there is a limit as to how long dogs should be kept outside. No matter what type of dog you have, too much time spent outdoors during the winter significantly increases the chances of frostbite. Dogs also need unfrozen water for drinking in the cold weather. A good option is using water bowls with heaters in them to stop the water from freezing, which is especially useful for outdoor-going dogs.
How to Treat Frostbite
While keeping your dog warm in winter clothing, limiting time outdoors in the cold, and keeping their water bowl from freezing will help prevent frostbite, it’s essential to know what to do in case they get it. Here are some dos and don’ts for how to treat frostbite in dogs:
- 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 that!
- Gently cover their body with warm, dry towels and keep hot water containers covered in towels close to the dog.
- 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.
- Once you warm the affected area, gently and thoroughly pat it dry with a towel or blanket.
- When going to the veterinarian for additional treatment, ensure the dog is warm by covering them with dry towels or blankets out of the dryer.
- Use direct dry heat, such as a hair drier.
- Massage the affected area because this may cause tissue damage instead of helping the dog.
- Warm the area affected by frostbite if you are still outside in the cold and unable to maintain the 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.
- Provide pain medication for the dog 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 practice caution when exposing your dog to extreme elements; they are not suited for such exposure.
A Warm Winter With Next Level Pet Care
If you need a little extra help with your furry friend this winter, contact Next Level Pet Care today! Our pet sitting and dog walking services will keep your pets warm and happy all winter long.
Next Level Pet Care 508.556.0656
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