Many dog owners are aware that their dogs can get heatstroke, but they are not as familiar with the concept that their dogs could get frostbite. It can be easy to assume that dogs are impervious to the cold, particularly if you have a breed of dog that would traditionally live in cold climates like a Bernese Mountain Dog or a Husky. Dogs can get frostbite, however, and you should be aware of this risk if you are going to be taking your dog to a climate that is quite chilly for any reason.
Protecting your dog from frostbite is important. Dogs can get frostbite and it can cause long-term damage to tissues and can lead to painful healing processes or surgery. You do not want to expose your dog to this risk, and it is easy to avoid this problem if you are aware of the conditions that can cause frostbite to be a concern.
If you are ready to learn some more about frostbite in dogs, you need to keep reading!
When Should I Worry About Frostbite in Dogs?
Dogs can become susceptible to frostbite when the temperature is lower than 32 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, your dog’s extremities will not be able to keep as warm, and there will be reduced circulation that could cause a risk of frostbite to occur. When your dog is not moving, the risk will be much more severe.
Taking your dog outside when it is colder than freezing requires care. You can protect your dog from these conditions by making sure that they are not outside for long and that they are not walking on cold surfaces like concrete that will increase the chill against their feet. You can also protect your dog by investing in cold weather gear to help protect them from the cold.
There are some breeds that are less susceptible to frostbite due to their coats and their body structure. The Malamute and the Husky are far less likely to suffer from frostbite in freezing weather but that does not mean that they cannot get it. You will find that dogs with thinner coats and older dogs can be more at risk for reduced body temperatures that lead to frostbite in cold weather. Puppies are also at a much greater risk than older animals.
How to Protect Your Dog from Frostbite
Here are some tips to keep your dog safe from frostbite:
Keep Them Inside
The best way to prevent frostbite in dogs is to keep them indoors when the weather is very cold. If your dog does need to go out to go to the bathroom, you need to bring them in as soon as possible. Even dogs that love to play in the snow should be discouraged from being outdoors for too long when the weather is very cold. Their noses and their faces can be prone to frostbite, just like their feet, and it is almost impossible to protect this part of a dog’s body from the cold.
Cold Weather Gear
Make sure that you get your dog the proper cold weather gear if they have to be out in the cold with you for some reason. You can get booties for your dog’s feet to help insulate them and protect their delicate foot pads from cold. You can also get winter jackets and raincoats to help keep your dog’s skin warm and dry and promote an increased body temperature in very cold weather.
Being Active When Outside
Your dog will also benefit from being active consistently when outside in freezing temperatures. Make sure that you are monitoring the freezing of your dog’s breath on their facial hair. Frozen moisture can lead to all kinds of skin irritation and other issues when left unattended, particularly in long-haired breeds with mustaches or long hair on the top of their heads.
Signs of Frostbite in Dogs
These are the signs of frostbite that you need to keep an eye out for when you are taking your dog outdoors in cold weather. Make sure to get your dog inside or to someplace warm if they are showing these symptoms:
- Swelling in the affected spot
- Pain or tenderness when touched
- Pale, blue, or gray skin
- Discolored skin
- Stiffness or clumsiness when moving around
- Blisters or ulcers on the skin
- Blackened or dead-looking tissue
Frostbite is often treated by warming the affected dog up slowly and carefully. Do not rub the affected tissue, as you can cause more damage to it. You might need to take your dog to the veterinarian for surgery to remove dying tissue and to help make sure that your dog’s overall body temperature has come up enough to be safe. Dogs can suffer long-term issues related to frostbitten skin, so you will need to make sure to protect them in the future from another exposure that could cause further damage to the affected tissues.
Frostbite in Dogs Can be Very Serious
While it might seem like dogs can regulate their body temperature better than humans due to their hair coats, frostbite can be a very real concern for dogs. You will also need to remember that the exposed skin that your dog is contacting the snowy or frozen ground with is not much tougher than the skin on your own hands. If you would not put your hands into the snow or onto the cold ground for an extended period of time, your dog should not do so either.
Just like with the prevention of heatstroke, you can keep your dog safe from frostbite just by being aware of the weather conditions. Keep your dog indoors when the weather is very cold, and make sure that you have the right gear on hand to protect them if they need to be outside with you when it is very cold out. Your dog will thank you for keeping them safe from frostbite when the weather is very cold, and you will avoid the need for expensive surgeries and long-term care related to injuries that were caused by frostbite.
Welcome to Kryder & Harr Veterinary Clinic! Our animal hospital has been a fixture in the Granger community since 1981, practicing full-service veterinary medicine for all our pet parents and their furry family members. At KHVC, we pride ourselves on our history, of providing excellent customer service for our clients, along with dedicated, compassionate, and exceptional medical care for all of our patients.