The weather has gotten a lot colder recently and just like us if affects your dogs. In fact, even your dog can suffer from hypothermia.
Hypothermia, as I am sure you know, is a condition caused by extremely low body temperatures. It comes in three different phases, from mild to moderate to severe. Mile hypothermia can occur at body temperatures of between 32-35 degrees Celsius, whilst on the other end of the scale, severe hypothermia kicks in at 28 degrees.
Causes and symptoms:
It occurs when your animal is no longer able to maintain its normal temperature. This causes a depression of the central nervous system and can even end up affecting your dog’s heart, blood flow, breathing and immune system.
Symptoms can vary, depending on the type of hypothermia. In mild cases, your pet will be weak, shivering, and be lacking mental alertness. While in moderate cases, they could experience muscle stiffness, shallow and slow breathing and low blood pressure, among other things.
Severe hypothermia causes an inaudible heartbeat, severe breathing difficulties, fixed and dilated pupils and your dog may even slip into a coma!!
As mentioned above, cold weather is the usual cause, though newborns are always susceptible. Smaller breeds of dogs and younger animals are much more prone also, as are older animals.
Diagnosis and Treatment:
If you suspect your dog may have hypothermia, always contact your vet! Once you bring them in, their temperature will be taken. Breathing and heartbeat rates will be next to be checked. Then this could be followed by urinalysis and blood tests to determine which type it may have. This test may also reveal another illness, your dog may be suffering from, which also presents similar symptoms.
Animals affected will be continually treated until they return to normal temperatures. Whilst bringing temperatures up, blankets are used, while it is also advised to keep your pet close to the fire. Thermal insulation is also used to prevent further heat loss.
Heating pads and radiant heat are other sources which can be used to help warm your pet up, though ensure that protective layering is placed between pads and your dog’s skin as it can cause irritation.
In severe cases, invasive warming methods may be used. These include giving warm water enemas and warm IV fluids into your pet. Oxygen may also be giving, in cases where your dog has difficulty breathing.
Prevention is easy, restrict your pet’s access to prolonged periods in cold temperatures. This can be keeping it inside at night, or building it a warm new home in a sheltered area outside. If outside, make sure dog houses are well insulated and facing away from the wind!
Don't forget to keep newborns, older animals and those with low blood sugar levels in warm areas at all times, as these are the worst affected.
A simple rule of thumb, if you are cold, the odds are your pet is as well, especially if it’s outside.