Can dogs get hypothermia?

The answer is a resounding yes.

Even with their thick fur and stocky build, dogs can still suffer from long exposure to frigid temperatures. How much more if your pet’s breed has short hair?

Moreover, dogs easily get cold when their fur is wet. Cold, windy climate may also lower your canine’s body temperature dramatically.

During extremely low body temperatures, a dog’s heart rate can drop to dangerous levels and breathing becomes laboured. This poses a serious threat and should be treated as soon as possible.

What are the signs and symptoms of hypothermia in dogs?

Hypothermia is a severe reaction to the decrease in temperature. In serious cases, the body shuts down eventually. Before it is too late, make sure that you take note of these dog hypothermia symptoms for future reference.

  • Siccaro icon Extreme shaking or trembling that is not followed by shivering
  • Siccaro icon Lethargy and weakness or sleepiness
  • Siccaro icon The skin and fur feels cold when touched
  • Siccaro icon Body temperature is below 95°F (35°C)
  • Siccaro icon Heart rate below normal (normal value may vary depending on the size and age)
  • Siccaro icon Dilated pupils
  • Siccaro icon Bluish or pale gums and inner eyelids
  • Siccaro icon Troubled gait
  • Siccaro icon Laboured breathing
  • Siccaro icon Loss of consciousness or coma

These signs are hard to recognise at their early stages, according to veterinary experts. They recommend that you take your dog’s temperature whenever you think they are feeling a bit cold.

What causes canine hypothermia?

Can dogs get hypothermia from air-conditioned rooms? What about playing in the rain or swimming in the lake?

As long as there is overexposure to highly frigid environments without any access to warmth, dogs can lose huge amounts of body heat fast.

Their body temperature can also drop dramatically due to:

  • Siccaro icon Wet or damp skin and fur that loses its insulating protection
  • Siccaro icon Exposure to cold water for a long time, especially if your dog loves to swim
  • Siccaro icon Shock that occurs along with hypothermia after a long course of anesthesia, sudden rewarming after a drop in temperature, and, in newborn puppies, inadequately heating

There are other factors that increase the risk of hypothermia.

Age is a contributing factor. The older the dogs are the more vulnerable they are.

Size also matters. Smaller dogs tend to be easily affected by the cold weather than larger ones. So even when the temperature is not freezing, make sure to gauge how the cold can affect your Miniature Pinscher or Bichon Frise.

Those that have undergone an operation and are under anaesthesia are also susceptible. On the other hand, canines with anomalies in their hypothalamus, such as hypothyroidism, are at high risk.

When left untreated, this can lead to serious health issues such as neurological damage and coma, cardiac arrest, kidney failure, apnoea, frostbite, and even death.

How should you treat hypothermia in dogs?

It is best to immediately treat your dog at the first possible sign of hypothermia to prevent loss of life or function or long-term complications if they survive.

Take note of the following simple steps to ensure that your furry friend is out of harm’s way.

  1. Siccaro icon Transport your pet to a place with a comfortable source of warmth as soon as possible. This could be a fireplace or a heating lamp. But be careful not to put your pup too near to the source as they may end up with burns.
  2. Siccaro icon Afterward, use a towel or large hair dryer to dry off your pet. When using a dryer, make sure that it is held, at least, a foot or 12 inches away to prevent scalding its skin and fur.
  3. Siccaro icon Wrap your dog in a thick blanket. Put the blanket in a dryer first to make it comfortably warm.
  4. Siccaro icon Add warm water bottles in the towels and place these on top of your pet’s belly. If you see any sign of discomfort or pain, discontinue this part of the procedure.
  5. Siccaro icon Use heating pads if possible. Just make sure that the dog will not end up chewing or gnawing the electric cords to prevent consequential problems.
  6. Siccaro icon Let your dog drink warm water.
  7. Siccaro icon With a thermometer, record your pet’s body temperature. Ensure that it stays well above 95°F (35°C). Take the temperature at 10 to 15 minutes intervals until stabilised. Otherwise, you have to bring your pet to the vet immediately within the hour from the onset of hypothermia.

Even if your dog feels fine afterward. It is still crucial that you see a veterinarian once they are well enough to go outside. Most cases of hypothermia are life-threatening and should not be taken lightly.

How to prevent hypothermia in dogs?

Most cases of hypothermia are actually preventable. As much as possible, do not allow your dog to stay outside for long periods of time when it is snowing or raining. Remember, cold weather and frigid water can easily trigger hypothermia. So keep them out of the water and rain at all times.

Animal cruelty laws highly discourage keeping pets outside, especially when the climate is harsh. Avoid any possibility of you accidentally leaving them outside overnight.

Provide a comfortable and warm place for your pets indoors. Give them a reason to stay in rather than whine nonstop to be let out.

Also, ensure that ageing pets and small dogs are properly covered with warm blankets to prevent heat loss. Short-haired pups, such as pit bulls and bulldogs, are susceptible too. So keep an eye on them.

In case you need to take your dog out for a walk, even for a short period, wrap them up with a Siccaro WetDog Spirit Outdoor Drying Coat, a dual-purpose coat that keeps your pet warm and dry.

When the weather permits a good swim, use the same coat to dry your pet quickly and with minimum fuss.

The coat is designed to cover your dog’s chest, upper legs, outer hind legs, back, neck and ears to keep them warm where they need it the most. It is made of an outer cotton drill and an absorbent inner layer.

Finally…

Hypothermia is a serious health condition that can leave your pet with permanent neurological problems. It can also result in death.

Hence, it is crucial to set, at least, a warm, comfortable spot for your dog whenever the outdoor temperatures are unbearable. Simply put, if you think you cannot stand the cold outside, chances are it could be the same for your pup.

 
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