Frostbite in Dogs
A little extra vigilance will
help prevent serious injury to your dog
MetPet.com Staff Writer
Frostbite occurs when the
body is exposed for a sufficient amount of time to below freezing temperatures. It
is important to take both the temperature and the wind chill into account when you venture
outside with your dog. In extreme environments, consider booties and
insulated coats to
protect your dog.
Frostbite is most likely to occur at the
extremities: paws, ears and tail. These areas are farthest away from
the heart and are the first to lose heat. Immersion in water can also
aggravate heat loss. If your dog's extremities feel cold to the touch and
appear to be unusually pale (due to lack of blood circulation), he may have
First, get your dog into a warm place and
cover him with a blanket. The body automatically preserves the vital
organs by pulling blood from the extremities. If the central body is warm,
blood can again flow to the extremities.
Second, massage the areas very gently to
encourage blood circulation. You can immerse the paws in a basin of
lukewarm water to warm them gently and you should see an improvement within ten
minutes. If the water begins to cool, replace it with more lukewarm water.
Color should begin to return to the skin. The idea is to gently elevate
your dog's temperature instead of shocking his system and causing more damage by
immersing him in hot water.
When you are able, take your dog to his
veterinarian to see if there is any lasting damage to the affected tissues.