Saturday, January 25, 2014

What To Do If Your Dog Gets Frostbite

Winter this year in my area has been particularly harsh. We have had many days of single digit temperatures and sub zero wind chills. Conditions like these put your dog at risk for frostbite.

Some snowy days are nice but others can be dangerous
when the temperature drops

Frostbite is the freezing of the tissue of parts of the body. Most susceptible are the extremities, for a dog that would be the ears, tail, and paw pads. When the windchill drops below 0 degrees, frostbite could occur in less than 10 minutes of exposure.

Dogs need to go out to "do what they got to do" even on the coldest days, so when you bundle up make sure your furry friend is protected as well.

How do I help prevent frostbite:

  • Elderly dogs, those with very short or thin fur, and puppies should wear a sweater or jacket.
  • Take short "potty breaks" outdoors in the early morning and nighttime when there is no sun.
  • Schedule longer walks for midday when the temperature is the warmest.
  • Wipe feet if ice and snow accumulate, especially between paw pads.
  • Upon return to indoors, thoroughly dry your pup

How do you know if your dog has frostbite?

The most noticeable sign is discoloration of the skin. If your dog has been outdoors in extreme cold for an extended period of time check the tips of their ears, tail, and feel for pale or blue skin. In advanced stages of frostbite the skin will be black. Since frostbite caused numbness and pain your pup may limp, lick their paws, or rub their ears. 

What to do?

If you suspect frostbite:
  • Take your dog inside where it is warm.
  • Lightly spray the affected area with warm water.
  • Apply warm (not hot) compresses to the area.
  • Take your pup to their veterinarian to check for tissue damage. 

I highly recommend everyone have a first aid manual and kit on hand. The American Red Cross is an excellent resource for information on how to care for an injured pet. 

1 comment:

  1. thanks for these great tips. Pray we don't ever have to use them on Dakota