Dog First Aid – Hypothermia

Humans take measures not to be affected by extremely cold temperatures. Cold weather would spur people to take out cold weather clothes from storage. These measures are done as protection against frostbite and hypothermia. Dogs are protected by the all-weather coats. Northern dogs can stay in freezing temperatures for long periods of time but this does not mean that a Husky or a Malamute would not succumb to hypothermia. Just as with humans, hypothermia will occur in these cold weather dogs when the lower than normal body temperature prevents the body from doing its vital functions. If long and dense coated dogs succumb to hypothermia, small and short haired dogs will be affected as well.

The normal body temperature of a dog is between 100°F to 102°F. A 90° F temperature will cause a dog to shiver. Shivering is an involuntary reaction of the muscles spurred by the body’s attempt to generate heat to be able to normalize body temperature. Making the hair stand to trap the air between the skin and the hair is another way by which the body fights off the cold. The warm air will serve as a layer of insulation. A dog that has succumbed to hypothermia will have hard and cold extremities. The body will direct the flow of blood to the vital organs and with insufficient supply to the extremities, the face, tail legs and ears will become hard and cold.

Hypothermia can cause the dog to go into shock. First aid treatment is imperative to save the dog from imminent death. Upping the core temperature of the dog will be very necessary. The pet must be taken in a warm room and wrapped in warm blankets. Hot water bottles wrapped in towels and placed on the dog’s less hair covered area will help in elevating body temperature. Warm water bottles on the legs and on body walls will help in keeping the dog warm.

A hair dryer can be used to direct warm air to the chilled do. However, take care not to direct the heat to one part of the body for a period of time to prevent the dog’s skin from being burned. Hypothermia can make a dog go into shock. To revive the dog, Karo syrup can be rubbed on the gums.

After the first aid treatments expect the dog to be in pain as the tissues begin to warm up. Pain can cause a well mannered dog to be aggressive. Use caution in approaching the dog.

Sarah’s Dogs has more information about hypothermia and first aid for dogs.

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