Frostbite & Hypothermia: Two additional winter concerns for your pet.

English: Arlo, a 13-week old Bernese Mountain ...

You can also keep an eye out for two serious conditions caused by cold weather. The first and less common of the two is frostbite. Frostbite happens when an animal’s body gets cold and pulls all the blood from the extremities to the center of the body to stay warm. The animal’s ears, paws, or tail can get cold enough that ice crystals can form in the tissue and damage it. The tricky thing about frostbite is that it’s not immediately obvious. The tissue doesn’t show signs of the damage to it for several days.

If you suspect your pet may have frostbite, bring him into a warm environment right away. You can soak his extremities in warm water for about 20 minutes to melt the ice crystals and restore circulation. It’s important that you don’t rub the frostbitten tissue, as the ice crystals can do a lot of damage to the tissue. Once your pet is warm, wrap him up in some blankets and take him to the veterinarian. Your veterinarian can assess the damage and treat your pet for pain or infection if necessary.

Hypothermia, or a body temperature that is below normal, is a condition that occurs when an animal is not able to keep her body temperature from falling below normal. It happens when animals spend too much time in cold temperatures, or when animals with poor health or circulation are exposed to cold. In mild cases, animals will shiver and show signs of depression, weakness and become lethargic. As the condition progresses, an animal’s muscles will stiffen, his heart and breathing rates will slow down, and he will stop responding to stimuli.

If you notice these symptoms, you need to get your pet warm and take him to your veterinarian. You can wrap him in blankets, possibly with a hot water bottle or an electric blanket. As always, remember to wrap hot items in fabric to prevent from burning the skin. In severe cases, your veterinarian can monitor your pet’s heart rate and blood pressure and give warm fluids through an IV.

Give us a call today at (614) 888-4050 if you suspect your pet has been subjected to prolonged cold temperatures and may be suffering from frostbite or hypothermia!


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