Dog Hypothermia: Signs, Treatment, and Prevention Tips

As winter’s chill sets in, pet owners must be aware of the dangers cold weather poses to dogs. Hypothermia, a serious yet often overlooked winter hazard, can affect dogs unexpectedly. In our blog, we’ll explain the basics of dog hypothermia and offer advice on keeping your pet safe during colder months. If you ever have concerns about your pet’s health, Kryder + Harr Veterinary Clinic is here to help with expert care. Call us at (574) 277-6533 for more information or to schedule an appointment for your pet. 

dog hypothermia

What Is Dog Hypothermia and Why Is It a Concern?

Hypothermia occurs in dogs when their body temperature drops below the normal range of 101° to 102.5°F. This can happen due to exposure to cold temperatures or if they get wet in cold weather. It’s a significant health hazard as it can lead to reduced immunity and frostbite, and, in severe cases, be life-threatening.

The Warning Signs You Can’t Ignore

Apart from the initial symptoms like shivering, lethargy, and weakness, pet owners should also be aware of more subtle indicators of hypothermia. Quick action is necessary at the first sign of any of these symptoms.

These include:

  • A noticeable decrease in heart rate and breathing rate
  • Unresponsiveness to commands or stimuli
  • A cold-to-touch feel, especially in the ears and paws
  • Stiffness or difficulty moving
  • In advanced stages, gums may appear pale or blue, indicating a severe drop in circulation

Spotting the Subtle Signs: Hypothermia’s Early Warnings

Knowing your dog’s behavior and watching for changes can be critical. Small changes like decreased energy, less appetite, or reluctance to play could indicate early hypothermia in colder weather.

How Can You Shield Your Pet from Hypothermia?

Preventing hypothermia is easy with these practical steps:

Appropriate Clothing: While some breeds have thick fur for insulation, others benefit greatly from wearing a coat or sweater. These garments should cover the neck, belly, and back while allowing easy movement.

Paw Protection: Dog booties not only keep paws warm but also protect them from salt and chemical deicers that can be harmful if licked off. Regularly check paws for cracks or redness.

Limit Outdoor Time: During extremely cold weather, reduce the time your dog spends outside. Instead, opt for more frequent, shorter outings for bathroom breaks and exercise.

Warm Shelter: Indoors, provide a cozy, warm space away from drafts. A well-padded bed in a warm room, away from cold floors, is ideal. You might also consider a heated pet bed or a warm blanket for your dog.

The Role of Veterinary Care in Hypothermia Prevention

Veterinary care plays a pivotal role in both preventing and treating hypothermia in dogs:

Pre-Winter Check-up: Schedule a veterinary visit before winter. This check-up can assess your dog’s overall health and prepare them for colder weather. Your vet can offer advice tailored to your dog’s breed, age, and health status.

Manage Underlying Conditions: Dogs with conditions like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, or hormonal imbalances may be more susceptible to the cold. Regular veterinary care can help manage these conditions and reduce the risk of hypothermia.

Emergency Situations: If you suspect your dog has hypothermia, they should see their vet immediately. Your vet can provide life-saving treatments such as warming techniques, intravenous fluids, and monitoring for any complications.

Ongoing Monitoring: Regular veterinary visits during winter are important, especially for older dogs, puppies, or those with health issues. Your vet can monitor your dog’s response to colder temperatures and adjust their care as needed.

Contact Kryder + Harr Veterinary Clinic for More Information

As a pet owner, keeping your dog safe and comfortable in winter is naturally a top priority. Dog hypothermia is a serious condition, but with careful attention and preventive measures, you can easily ensure a safe winter season for your pet. If you notice any signs of hypothermia, don’t hesitate to contact Kryder + Harr Veterinary Clinic at (574) 277-6533. We’re more than happy to help!


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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.