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Drew: How to Treat Your Pet During Frigid Cold

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By Samuetta Hill Drew


As we are about to end our series on how to keep your pet safe during cold temperatures, we want to expound on last week’s article about additional symptoms and treatment for frostbite in pets.

Truly our region of the country experiences a great deal of seasonal rain. This rain coupled with extreme cold temperatures can equal a potentially dangerous unsafe situation for your pet dogs and cats which can ultimately lead to frostbite. Even dogs whose natural fur coats are better suited for cold temperatures can become susceptible, as well.

Hypothermia happens often in conjunction with frostbite. These symptoms can include – excessive shivering, shallow or labored breathing, stiff movements, lethargy, and low body temperature, under 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms begin by moving your pet into a dry, warm space as quickly as possible. Wrap your pet slowly in a dry, warm blanket or towels. Also, place a hot water bottle wrapped in towels (not directly on their skin or fur) near your dog’s body. This will help warm up your pet.

 DO NOT use hot water for warming frostbite areas, as it can cause more damage.
If your cat is suffering from hypothermia or low core body temperature, treat the hypothermia first. Do this by slowly wrapping your pet cat’s body in warm dry towels or blankets. A hot water bottle may be used also.
If you suspect your dog/cat has frostbite, seek medical attention immediately. Below are some interim first aid suggestions that you can begin:

• DO NOT rub or massage the affected area.
• If you are outdoors, DO NOT warm a frostbite area, if you cannot keep it warm. Additionally cold exposure or refreezing will more severely injure the tissue.
• Carefully warm specific affected areas with warm water (NOT HOT), around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. You should be able to place a hand in the water comfortably. If the water is too hot, you may cause more damage than not using any water at all.
• Soak the affected body part directly in the warm water, or use warm water compresses on the area. Once the area is warmed, carefully pat dry as thoroughly as possible. Try to prevent your dog/cat from licking and scratching at affected areas.
• Keep your pet wrapped up while treating them for either hypothermia and/or frostbite.

Below are some things a pet owner should NOT DO while treating your dog/cat:
• Do not use hot water for warming frostbitten areas, as it can cause more damage.
• Do not use direct heat on affected areas such as a hair dryer or heating pad.
• Do not massage or rub your dog/cat or affected areas.
• Do not give your dog/cat pain medication not prescribed by a veterinarian. Human pain relievers can be toxic.

Once your pet has been examined by the veterinarian, the prognosis depends on the extent of the frostbite. Mild cases usually resolve with little permanent damage while more severe cases may result in permanent disfiguration or alteration of affected tissues. Extreme frostbite cases can require amputation or a surgical procedure.

During cold winter temperatures, it is important you Keep an Eye on Safety by providing warm spaces for your pets.