Many people forget that their pets are just as susceptible to the cold as they are. So often we assume that because they have fur that they are immune to the cold, but this is not the case. When you are cold outdoors, chances are that your dog is, too! Because many people don’t understand this dogs often suffer from mild to severe cases of frostbite, which can lead to a whole slew of other health problems!
Tissue on your dog that has been frostbitten will usually be very pale or even gray in color. The area will be hard as well as cold to the touch and as the area thaws it will become red. If the frostbite is severe, over the course of the next several days the tissue will turn black and eventually slough off of the body area. The tissue will become hot, tender, and very painful. While frostbite is not something that your dog will complain about as it happens, it will become very painful for your dog as the area thaws.
Luckily, preventing frostbite is relatively easy. The first thing you should remember is that if you are cold that your dog will be, too. Don’t leave your dog outdoors in the cold, windy, or wet weather. Also, don’t allow your dog to go out in cold temperatures when they are wet. If you will be out in the cold or wet weather with your dog, make sure to take precautions and to dress your dog accordingly to make sure that you both have the best time possible.
If you suspect that your dog has been affected by frostbite you should quickly warm the area with water that is 104 to 108 degrees Fahrenheit. You may also want to use warm compresses or even soak the affected body area in a tub or bowl of water. After the area has been warmed you will want to dry it very gently, being careful not to run or massage the area. At this point you will need to call your vet so that the extent of the damage can be seen. You’ll want to wrap your dog in a warm blanket or towel as you transport them to the vet to be sure that they are able to keep their body temperature at a safe level.
Your vet will be able to give your dog the proper pain medication and antibiotics will often be started to avoid secondary infections, which are common with frostbite in dogs. If an extreme amount of tissue is involved, the vet may have to examine the area to determine that it does not need to be amputated and the dog will be evaluated to see if they have hypothermia and this will be treated accordingly.