Hypothermia is more common than a lot of people realize. We all hear about dogs who get too hot and suffer from symptoms of heatstroke, but did you know that your dog can also suffer from hypothermia, which is experiencing body temperatures that are too low for typical functioning to continue. All animals can experience hypothermia, but those that are most commonly affected by hypothermia are short-haired dogs that are also small and wet, and don’t have the proper shelter from the cold.
The symptoms of hypothermia usually have a slow onset and if you don’t recognize them you can end up in a hurry ones the cold takes over your dog’s body. Some of the most common symptoms are violent shivering, slow and shallow respiration, and then when the hypothermia becomes more advanced the dog will become listless and will then become unresponsive, and if they are not warmed the dog will die.
Even with treatment hypothermia is something that can be very serious. There can be damage to the tissues on the inside as well as the outside of the body that may cause the dog to need more extensive medical care. It’s a health issue that can be treated, but if hypothermia is not treated immediately it can be fatal.
The great news is that hypothermia is preventable. Ensuring that your dog is not left out in cold temperatures for long periods of time is important. If your dog is out in the cold for too long their body temperature will drop and they will be more susceptible to hypothermia as well as frostbite. It’s important that you only allow your dog to be outdoors for short periods of time during cool temperatures and if they are left out for more than a few minutes it’s important that they need to have shelter as well as garments to help them hold in their body heat. It’s also very important that the dog is not allowed outside when they are wet in any way, shape, or form.
Treating hypothermia is possible and the object is to warm the dog’s body slowly. You can start by placing your dog in a warm room and then wrapping them in blankets that have been run through the clothes dryer for a few minutes. You can also fill bottled with warm water, wrap them in a towel and put them on the armpit and groin areas of the dog where there is less hair. You may also want to use hair dryers as this can help to dry the dog as well as warm the skin. If you are certain that you can handle the issue at home you can give your dog a warm bath, pouring water over them and then wrapping them in warmed blankets.
After your dog recovers from hypothermia, you should give them water and food if they are interested. For young or small animals it may be beneficial to give the dog honey or sugar water. It’s important as you are warming your dog to be aware that it may be painful, and dogs often bite when they are in pain. Just use caution when around your dog until they begin behaving normally again.