Hypothermia in dogs is a severe lowering of your dogs temperature. Prolonged exposure to cold results in a drop in body temperature. It is most likely to happen when a dog is wet. It is seen in dogs with short hair or toy breeds. Hypothermia occurs in newborn puppies. It can occur after a long anesthetic or shock can cause it. Prolonged chilling burns up the available energy and predisposes to low blood sugar. Dog hypothermia is a potentially serious condition that occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can replace it. A normal canine temperature ranges from 100 t o 102.5 degrees. A low body temp of less than 97 degrees rectal is a sign of trouble.
Canine hypothermia can be classified as either primary or secondary. In the primary stage it results from prolonged exposure to cold. The secondary stage is caused by an external condition such as trauma or illness.
Symptoms of hypothermia include:
- violent shivering
- muscle stiffness
- low body temperature
If the dog is not removed from the cold and warmed, the organs will begin to fail. Hypothermia is classified as mild, moderate or severe, based on the body’s temperature.
Puppies and senior dogs are more susceptible. Thin dogs that are very lean with little insulation of body fat are at higher risk.
Frostbite in dogs is rare, but your dog’s ear tips, tail and scrotum may be frozen on very cold days.
Treatment of hypothermia includes rewarming, which involved removing the dog from the cold and placing it in a warm place. Moderate and severe cases require medical attention to actively warm the dog. This may include, warm air blowers, warm water pads, warm oxygen cage and warm IV fluids.
To prevent hypothermia, never leave a dog outside in the cold. Dogs should have the opportunity to come inside to warm themselves if they choose to.