A dog's fur helps to keep them warm in cold weather. Veterinarians warn, however, that even with this protection against the cold, dogs can still get a condition called hypothermia. If you're a dog owner, here are four things you should know about hypothermia.
1. Know What Hypothermia Is
Hypothermia occurs when dogs lose body heat faster than they can replace it. The normal body temperature for dogs is between 101 and 102.5 degrees F. If a dog's body temperature drops below 99 degrees, it could mean they have hypothermia, which would require a trip to the veterinarian. The best way to know your dog's body temperature is to put a human digital thermometer a couple of inches into their rectum.
2. Know the Symptoms of Hypothermia
If a dog has a mild case of hypothermia, you may notice the animal shivering. The dog may also appear lethargic. More severe symptoms will occur as the dog tries to conserve heat and the body temperature remains low. Some of the more severe symptoms of hypothermia in dogs include stiff muscles, pale gums, lack of coordination, and a low respiratory rate.
Hypothermia can also cause dogs to collapse or go into a coma. If you notice any of these signs, it's imperative to get your dog to the veterinarian right away. Left untreated, hypothermia can cause kidney failure, neurological problems, frostbite, and even death.
3. Know What Kind of Dogs Are More Susceptible
Some dogs are more prone than others of getting hypothermia. Dogs that are more susceptible to this condition are small dogs and those with short hair. Other dogs that can get hypothermia easier than others include:
- Elderly dogs
- Skinny dogs
- Very young dogs
Dogs that have certain medical conditions, such as low blood sugar or hypothyroidism are also at greater risk of hypothermia.
4. Know How to Protect Your Dog from Hypothermia
When dogs are left in the cold with no way to warm up, it can easily result in hypothermia. The colder the temperature, and the longer the animal is left outside, the more likely they will be to get hypothermia. For these reasons, if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, you need to make sure they have a way to get out of the cold. Insulated doghouses are good options.
Dogs that stay in the doghouse or in the garage should have a heated bed. You can also let your dog indoors periodically to warm up. If your dog spends most of its time indoors, you should limit their exposure to freezing cold temperatures. Your veterinarian can help you find other ways to protect your dog from hypothermia.
Contact a local animal hospital, like Angel Pet Hospital, for more information.