Treating and Preventing Canine Hypothermia

photoYour pooch can get hypothermia from taking a bath during the winter, especially if he is exposed to the cold before being dried. And while it is a treatable condition, it can cause permanent tissue damage if not dealt with promptly.

Canines that have difficulty maintaining their normal body temperature are more vulnerable to hypothermia, i.e.:

* Small dogs
* Short haired dogs
* Wet dogs
* Dogs that are sensitive to cold weather
* Dogs that stay outside for extended periods without access to dry and warm shelter

Treating hypothermia

To combat hypothermia, you need to get your dog warm so his core temperature can return to normal.

If you are out walking your pet and he is suffering from the cold, you have to prevent further body heat from escaping. If you have a small dog, you can simply pick him up and carry him home. If you have a larger breed, you should head back home as quickly as possible.

Once indoors, you can do the following:

* For mild hypothermia, i.e. your dog is shivering and his muscles appear stiff, take him to a warm room with a well insulated floor and wrap him in a dry and warm blanket. Keep him like this until his temperature gets back to normal – use a thermometer to determine this. If you don’t have a thermometer, wait until he stops shivering, has more movement in his body, and returns to his usual self.

* For moderately severe hypothermia, i.e. your pet’s body temperature is about 90-94 degrees Fahrenheit, you will need some rewarming tools such as hot water bottles, hairdryers, heat lamps, warm baths, heat pads, and warm towels. Don’t try to use water that is too hot – it can burn his skin. The water should be 103-105 degrees Fahrenheit, which are a few degrees above your dog’s normal body temperature.

Keep an eye out for any adverse reactions as your pooch warms up. You know how your fingers can start aching and tingling after you come in from the cold? Your dog will experience similar feelings and he might lash out due to confusion.

* Severe hypothermia should be treated immediately by your vet, who may perform stomach flushes, warm water enemas, and other internal warming procedures.

Preventing hypothermia

As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Here are some ways to keep your dog from getting hypothermia:

* Don’t leave your pooch outside in the cold for a long time and provide access to a dry and warm shelter.
* If your dog gets wet while you are outside, the wind chill factor can make him colder much faster, so always bring a towel with you so you can dry him off when needed.
* Consider buying a coat and booties for your dog.
* If your pet is sensitive to cold weather, take him outside only when he has to go to the bathroom.

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