Hypothermia in Dogs | Petlebi

Dog Health

Hypothermia is expressed as a decrease in body temperature to extremely low degrees. It is seen in dogs and other animals as well as in humans. Dogs that are exposed to very low temperatures for a long time and get wet in the cold and wind are at a high risk of being seen. When body temperature drops, heart rhythm and breathing rate also decrease. This brings with it many problems. Hyperthermia causes some neurological problems such as coma, heart problems, kidney failure, frostbite, breathlessness and eventually death. In our country, the air temperatures in the winter months can get cold enough to cause hypothermia. Today, many stray dogs die in winter due to hypothermia. It is necessary to warm up a dog showing signs of hypothermia and take the dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

brown dog with snow on his face

Symptoms of Hypothermia in Dogs

Symptoms of hypothermia in dogs become increasingly severe when conditions do not change. The body responds more and more to the temperature drop and eventually shuts down. The first signs of hypothermia are difficult to understand. Among the most common symptoms of hypothermia is excessive shivering. However, as the hypothermia worsens, the shivering disappears. At the same time, body movements slow down and sleep-like behavior is observed. The dog remains motionless and looks weak. Frostbite occurs on the dog’s skin and coat. Hypothermia symptoms include decreased heart rhythm, dilation of the pupil, bruising of the gums and inner part of the eyelids, difficulty in walking and breathing. When the body temperature drops too low, unconsciousness and coma occur.

Causes of Hypothermia

Hypothermia is commonly caused by exposure to cold. However, rarely, different health problems can cause hypothermia. Decreased body temperature in dogs is seen when they are exposed to cold weather for a long time, and this can cause hypothermia. However, hypothermia can also be seen in very young or old dogs under normal weather conditions. Insufficient functioning of thyroid and hypothalamus functions, advanced metabolic diseases, and health problems such as infection septicemia rarely cause hypothermia. However, there is a small chance of hypothermia occurring in dogs that receive anesthesia. Keeping the feathers wet, staying in cold water for a long time or being shocked are among the causes of hypothermia.

brown-eyed black dog with sad eyes lying in the snow

Hypothermia Treatment

Treatment for hypothermia in dogs should begin as soon as hypothermia is noticed. Because it can turn into a life-threatening situation in a very short time. There are certain interventions that should be done when hypothermia is suspected. First of all, it is necessary to quickly remove the dog from the cold environment and take it to a warm environment. Heating with a towel or hair dryer are some of the options. Afterwards, it is recommended to wrap the dog in a blanket to prevent heat loss. Hot water bags or hot air can be used to warm the abdomen especially. While doing all this, it should not be forgotten that necessary precautions should be taken to prevent burns on the dog’s skin. It is also among the things to do to make the dog drink hot drinks. After doing these, measurements should be made with a thermometer and it is necessary to make sure that the body temperature is under control. In cases where the body temperature is below 35, the risk of hypothermia continues. In cases where the body temperature is above 35, it should be checked again every 10-15 minutes. In this way, it can be understood how good the applied methods are. When the body temperature exceeds 37, it is necessary to remove hot water bags and additional heaters from the dog. However, it is necessary to make sure that the environment is warm. Although hypothermia can be prevented, it is important that the dog is examined by a veterinarian on the same day. Although the body temperature has reached 37 degrees, hypothermia can cause some problems. In cases where the body temperature does not rise despite all applications for 30 – 45 minutes, a veterinarian should be consulted directly.

How to Prevent Hypothermia in Dogs?

Hypothermia can be prevented by not exposing dogs to very cold air or water for a long time. Very small or old dogs are more affected by cold weather. In addition, small breeds or short-haired dogs are also more vulnerable to cold weather. It is recommended that these dogs be dressed in protective clothing such as sweaters when going out in cold weather. It is also an effective solution to apply oil to the paws when going out to prevent snow accumulation and freezing of the paws. There are also protective creams for paws today. In short, not exposing dogs to the cold for too long is the only solution. Making shelters for our friends living outside, and allowing them to take shelter in balconies or apartments in very cold weather, if the conditions are suitable, are among the measures that can be taken.

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