Category Archives: hypothermia

Can Dogs and Cats Get Frostbite?

By Linda Cole

Winters can be really snowy and cold in my neck of the woods, making it hard for humans and animals to get around. My dogs do fine when we’re outside, provided their time in the snow and cold is limited. But in extreme cold, it takes only a few minutes before they’re limping back with very cold feet. I’ve had occasions where I’ve had to pick one up and carry her back inside. It’s important to keep a close eye on pets during the winter months because they can get frostbite on their feet, ears, tail and nose.

Some dog and cat breeds have a warm coat that provides them with good protection from harsh weather. The Norwegian Forest Cat and Maine Coon Cat developed naturally on their own, adapting to weather conditions to survive. Northern dogs were bred to work in extreme weather conditions. They needed to be tough because human lives depended on their ability to handle snow and cold. However, even pets with double coats can feel the effects of the cold and are at risk of frostbite, especially inside pets that aren’t acclimated to the colder temperatures.

A pet is at risk of frostbite when the temperature drops to 32º F and below. When exposed to the cold for too long, the body begins a process of survival. Blood vessels closest to the skin begin to constrict and push blood to the core to protect vital organs like the heart and liver. The longer the body is exposed to the cold, blood flow at the extremities can become so low it can’t protect these areas from freezing, which results in tissue damage. These are the areas of the body farthest from the heart with little to no hair covering them. The tip of the tail, ears, paw pads and toes are the most common areas affected, but dogs and cats can get frostbite on their nose, too.

Read More »

EmailGoogle GmailBlogger PostTwitterFacebookGoogle+Share

Hypothermia and Your Pet: What are the Signs?

By Linda Cole

Winter is just around the corner and as temperatures begin to fall, so does the danger of pets developing hypothermia. It doesn’t have to be freezing for us or our pets to become too cold. If you have an outside cat or a dog that enjoys winter sports or just playing outside in the snow, you should know what the signs of hypothermia are and how to treat it.

A good friend of mine recently told me a story about a kitten she had. “My tiny kitten accidentally fell into the toilet while I was sleeping and couldn’t get out. I walked in and found her lying in the bowl with her head out of the water. She was shivering and unresponsive. Not having a clue what to do, I rushed her to the emergency vet, where they told me she was hypothermic. She was totally fine in a few hours, but man was I scared.”

Hypothermia can be a serious, life threatening condition. Knowing what the signs are can save your pet’s life. We usually associate hypothermia with winter time and cold temperatures, but as my friend’s story shows, it can happen inside the house as well.

What causes hypothermia? The core temperature of the body falls below its normal temperature. Pets that get too cold can experience a mild (90 – 99 degrees F), moderate (82 – 90 degrees F) or severe (less than 82 degrees F) drop in temperature. A dog’s normal body temperature is 101 to 102.5, and a cat’s normal temperature is 100.4 to 102.5.

Read More »