Friday, December 26, 2008

Hypothermia and Frostbite

Hypothermia and Frostbite

Many companion animals are at greater risk during the winter season than their counterparts. Those with an underlying illness, very young or very old, stray or outdoor companions without shelter, and those in shock from other trauma are at a greater risk for hypothermia. Dogs will shiver to speed up metabolism, temporarily raising their body temperature. Move a companion indoors promptly if he/she exhibits prolonged or aggressive shivering, shows no interest in playing, lifts one paw at a time, acts weak or lethargic, is confused or disorientated, walks in circles or doesn’t respond when called and begin the warming up process. Wrap him/her in a warm blanket and turn up the thermostat until he/she stops shivering. Warm water bottles or a heating pad on a low setting may be used to expedite the process, being certain to wrap the heat source in a towel to prevent accidental burns. Monitor the pets rectal temperature. A normal temperature for a dog ranges between 99.5-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. A cat’s normal temperature range is 100-103.2 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove heat sources and un-tuck blankets once normal temperatures have resumed. When warmed and alert, offer food and water to provide added warmth and strength. If his/her condition does not improve or worsens, contact your veterinarian immediately. Signs of hypothermia include a weak pulse, decreased heart rate, dilated pupils, shivering, pale or blue mucous membranes, stupor, unconsciousness, and coma. Frostbite will generally affect the tips of ears, tail, genitals and footpads. Alongside the symptoms of hypothermia, there may be pale skin, blisters or hair loss. Quickly re-warm affected areas by immersing in warm water. Do not rub. If possible, elevate the area and apply a sterile dressing and bandage. Consult with your veterinarian on tissue damage or loss to the affected areas. May your winter season and be safe and comfortable and your New Year be filled with joy for you and your companions!

Upcoming article...repeated seasonally, but so very important. I picked up many frostbit strays after weather had warmed and snow is wet. Kittys lose tips of ears and tails quickly...and pads of feet are easily burnt by salts!

1 comment:

april said...

All good things for everyone to remember. Timber, my golden, is getting so slow and I am out there every time, hurrying him on in that weather. Henri just wants to drag icebergs into the house.