Hypothermia in dogs can lead to frostbite, but it is much different and is considered to be much more dangerous.
The reason for this is it can very easily cause shivering, muscle stiffness, as well as low heart and respiratory rates in your dog.
However, if it is severe enough, it can also cause your dog to have a very difficult time in breathing which can lead to stupors and possibly comas.
If it does reach this point in severity, the chances are extremely high that your dog will not survive.
Hypothermia in dogs is a condition where their body temperature becomes too low for the body to properly function.
It is caused by prolonged exposure to a very cold environment, especially if your dog has become wet from snow, or if they are not provided with adequate shelter during extreme weather.
However, if your dog’s body has become impaired for some reason and they cannot properly regulate their body temperature, it also places them at a risk of developing hypothermia.
There are certain illnesses, such as hypothyroidism, that can cause your dog to lose their ability to properly regulate as well as maintain their body temperature.
The signs or symptoms of hypothermia in dogs can range from mild to life threatening.
If you do suspect that your dog has this condition, you will need to do several thing very quickly including taking their temperature.
Puppies that are exposed are at a much higher degree of risk for two reasons; their body cannot yet properly regulate itself and their body temperature is lower than a mature dog.
If you do suspect hypothermia in dogs, you need to immediately take their temperature and then react accordingly.
The normal body temperature for a dog past the puppy stage is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
A new born puppy’s normal temperature is slightly lower and is considered to be normal between 96.0 and 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit.
To take your dog’s temperature, you will need to have a rectal thermometer, which you should always keep on hand if you own a dog.
However, it does not need to be made especially for dogs, as you can also use one that is designed for human use.
The first thing you need to do is to shake the thermometer until the reading is at 96.0 degrees or less.
Than lubricate it with Vaseline or some type of lubricating jelly, grasp your dog’s tail at the base, and raise it up.
Make sure you hold it firmly as even with hypothermia, their natural reaction will be to set down.
Gently insert the bulb portion of the thermometer into their anus with a very slight twisting motion at least two inches. In very large breeds, you will have to go in at least three inches.
Leave it in for at least two minutes, remove it, and read it. If it is below normal, you need to react very quickly.
Hypothermia in dogs can affect most all breeds of dogs unless they are bred especially for very cold climates, but even these dogs can be affected under certain circumstances.
Dogs with short hair as well as small dogs lead the list, as well as dogs under six months of age.
If your dog has become extremely wet or accidentally fallen through ice, they are also at a very high degree of risk.
Elderly dogs, obese or underweight dogs, as well as dogs with certain diseases are also at a much higher degree of risk.
The diseases include arthritis, diabetes, hypothyroidism, as well as any type of heart disease.
There are also some breeds, because their short legs, places their body at lower elevations to snow and ice, and as a result, they are more exposed to the potential of hypothermia in dogs.
These include Basset Hounds, Dachshunds, Shih Tzus, as well as Scotties, Pekingese, and Cain and Yorkshire Terriers.
Hypothermia in dogs has very distinctive symptoms, and unlike frostbite, they will appear very rapidly.
They will include a very sudden depression, weakness, as well as a very obvious shivering.
Some dogs are nervous by nature, but you will know shivering when you see it.
Other symptoms include muscle stiffness, low heart rates, and a very sudden difficulty in breathing, as well as fixed and dilated pupils.
If it reaches this stage, stupors, coma, and death can occur very rapidly if they are not warmed and treated.
Hypothermia in dogs has three classes of warming or rewarming techniques; passive external, active external, and active internal.
However, once you have taken their temperature, immediately contact your veterinarian or an emergency professional.
Let them make the decision on the form of treatment as this step may save their lives.
The first method, passive internal, is the slowest but also the most natural.
In this case if your dog’s temperature is not dramatically below the normal range and they have none of the diseases that place them at a higher degree of risk, they will produce their own rewarming heat.
Although shivering is very frightening, it is your dog’s metabolic natural method of warming themselves back up. In very mild cases, it can correct itself quite easily.
However, if it is considered to be a moderate case of hypothermia, they will need the active external treatment.
This will include warm baths, warm water bottles, blankets, as well as heating pads.
Radiant heaters or even hair blowers can also be used. However, do not use hot water bottles as they may not feel hot to you, but they can very easily burn a dog in this condition.
Plastic soda bottles filled with warm water can be wrapped in a towel and placed in their armpit and groin areas to quickly warm these areas that have less hair and protection.
You will need to also be very careful about warm baths if you are instructed to take you dog in for immediate treatment.
Wetting their body and then taking them back outside, even if they are wrapped, can be very dangerous.
If active internal methods has to be used, your veterinarian will advise you of this, and you should never attempt this on your own as you will need to leave this to your professional.
This will include inhalation warming with heated air or oxygen, as well as circulation of heated fluids in their body cavities.
Heated intravenous fluids may also be used to speed up their metabolic demands as well as inhalation warming.
This is basically mouth to mouth warming but should not be done unless you are trained in it. It is especially effective in warming your dog’s brain as well as their nasal cavities.
Hypothermia in dogs has one other method of treatment once your dog has recovered and is moving naturally, and is especially helpful to younger dogs.
Two tablespoons of honey or sugar dissolved in a twelve ounce glass of warm, not hot water, will help to sooth and calm your dog down even further.
This condition is potentially life threatening, and if it does get very cold outside, bring your dog inside or at least make sure they have a strong shelter and plenty of warm and clean blankets.