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  • Dog in Low Temperature

    Ways to Successfully Treat Frostbite in Dogs

    Whether the sun is shining or the snow is falling, our dogs usually tend to love to spend time outside. As the weather turns cold and winter sets it, it’s important to always be on the lookout for symptoms of frostbite on your pets. Even dogs with thicker fur are susceptible to the effects of frostbite in very low temperatures. While frostbite isn’t normally fatal in and of itself, if left untreated, it can lead to hypothermia, which can be deadly.

    In this article, we will discuss frostbite and what causes it, describe the noticeable symptoms of frostbite, and provide expert advice on how you can successfully treat frostbite in your dog.

    Causes of Frostbite

    When a dog is left in very low temperatures for a significant amount of time, the cold causes injury to the outermost bodily extremities. This happens as your pet’s body works to divert blood flow toward its center in order to maintain its core body temperature and preserve its vital organs. As this happens, the skin and body tissue in your pet’s extremities begin to freeze, causing frostbite. Your dog’s ears, nose, paws, and tail are the most susceptible to frostbite. If your dog’s fur is wet, this can also exacerbate frostbite.

    Common Symptoms of Frostbite in your Pet

    There are several easy-to-spot symptoms that your dog has been overly-exposed to the cold and is experiencing the effects of frostbite. If you notice any of these signs, it is very important that your dog receives treatment immediately to avoid permanent damage or, in extreme cases, hypothermia and death.

    • skin discoloration; often pale blue or gray
    • affected area(s) feels cold or brittle
    • pain when the area(s) is touched
    • affected area(s) swells as it thaws
    • blisters or skin ulcers
    • blackened skin

    How to Treat Your Dog at Home

    Once you’ve properly diagnosed that your dog has frostbite, it’s imperative that you begin the process of treatment right away. The most important thing to do is to try to return warmth to your pet and his affected areas:

    • Carefully move your dog to the warmest, driest place in your home.
    • Apply a warm towel or water compress to the affected area. It’s important to make sure that the water isn’t hot, as this will only cause more damage or scalding. The recommended temperature for the warm water compress is 100 to 108. Also, do not use a hair dryer or other direct heat source to warm your pet, and do not try to massage the affected area as this could cause harm to the damaged tissue.
    • Once you have successfully warmed the area, it will become red and start to swell. This is a good sign. However, if the area becomes more black, then you should seek immediate help from your trusted veterinarian.
    • Continue to keep your pet warm with towels or blankets. Once you feel confident that the frostbite is controlled and your dog’s body temperature is stable, you should see your veterinarian as soon as possible in order to ascertain whether there is any permanent damage or if your dog needs further treatment.

    The next step

    Once you’ve brought your dog to your local, trusted vet, they will examine your pet for any signs of hypothermia as well as ascertain the extent of damage caused by the frostbite. Mild cases of frostbite often heal almost completely, while more severe cases may result in permanent damage, disfigurement, the need for surgery, or amputation of the affected area.

    Your vet will more than likely prescribe pain medication, as the healing process can be very painful for your dog. Antibiotics may also be prescribed in more serious cases to fight off infection.

    Dr. Ron’s Animal Hospital

    At Dr. Ron’s Animal Hospital & Emergency, our Dog With Vet friendly medical team provides only the best care for your lovable pets. If your dog is suffering from the effects of frostbite, do not hesitate to bring your pooch in for an examination. Our team will work tirelessly to make sure that your pet makes the best recovery possible.

    If you’re located in Simi Valley, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks, Chatsworth, or in areas nearby Ventura County, contact us today to set up an appointment or stop in at any time for more information on the services we provide.

    posted on May 6, 2020 at 2:03 pm by Doctor Ron