Dog frostbite and hypothermia: symptoms and first aid

What is frostbite?

Frostbite in medical terminology is the damage that was caused to skin and other tissues due to cold. When ambient temperature drops below 0 ° C, circulatory vessels that are close to the surface of the skin begin taper and shrink. This constriction of blood vessels helps maintain internal body temperature by draining blood from more cold spots closer to the center. In severe frosts or when the body exposed to cold for a long time, this protective mechanism can reduce blood flow to some parts of the body to critically low levels, especially to the limbs. Combination of low temperatures with a decrease in blood flow can lead to freezing tissues, causing them serious damage. Frostbite is usually occurs in parts of the body remote from the heart.

Dog frostbite and hypothermia: symptoms and first aid

Dogs most often get frostbite on their paws, ears and tail. If the dog is wet, then these parts of the body are very vulnerable to frostbite.

What are the symptoms of frostbite?

Clinical symptoms of frostbite include:

  • Skin color measurement of the affected area – skin often becomes pale, gray or bluish.
  • Cold and fragile area when touched
  • Pain from touching an affected part of the body
  • Swelling of the affected area
  • Blisters and ulcers on the skin
  • Areas of blackened or dead skin

When thawing frostbitten tissues, they can become red and very painful due to inflammation.

Clinical symptoms of frostbite may appear later a few days after frostbite, especially if the affected area small (e.g. tip of tail or ears). Badly frostbitten patches can become necrotic and die out. If the fabric starts dying, it changes color from dark blue to black, then, over a few days or weeks, she begins to tear away and fall away. AT during this time, pus can form in the tissues and develop unpleasant odor due to secondary bacterial infection.

Dogs with heart disease, diabetes and some other diseases that cause a decrease in blood flow to limbs are most at risk of frostbite.

How is frostbite diagnosed?

Diagnosis is usually made based on medical history and physical examination. If the dog has been exposed to prolonged exposure to low temperatures, blood tests may be required and urine to determine possible damage to internal organs.

How to treat frostbite?

If you suspect your dog is frostbite, then you should seek veterinary care immediately. First aid frostbite may include:

  • Place the dog in a warm and dry place as quickly as possible and as can be more secure.
  • If the dog suffers from hypothermia or low temperature body, first of all pay attention to hypothermia. Slow and gently wrap it in a warm, dry towel or blanket and place hot water bottles next to the dog, also wrapped in towels.
  • Do not rub or massage the affected area.
  • If you are outside, do not warm the frostbitten part body if you cannot keep it warm. Additional exposure to cold or repeated freezing will be more severe injure tissue.
  • You can carefully warm the affected area with warm water (not hot!). Recommended water temperature is between 40 and 42 ° C – at this temperature you should be able to comfortably dip your hand in warm water. If the water is too hot, you can do more harm than if you hadn’t used water generally. You can also use warm water compresses. Not use direct dry heat, such as a heating pad or hair dryer.
  • After the damaged part warms up, carefully wipe and dry it.
  • You are the time of the trip to the vet to keep the dog warm by wrapping her in dry towels or a blanket.
  • Do not give your dog any pain medication if they not agreed with your veterinarian. Many common painkillers for people, including acetaminophen and aspirin, can be poisonous to pets.

How will a veterinarian treat frostbite?

The veterinarian must examine the dog and consider the treatment of any other diseases accompanying frostbite, especially shock or hypothermia. Since tissue thawing is extremely painful, the dog is likely to be given pain medication. Antibiotics can be used to prevent secondary skin infections if tissue is suspected of necrosis. To some dogs require amputation of seriously affected parts of the body.

What is the prognosis of frostbite?

The prognosis of frostbite depends on the degree of damage in the dog. Mild cases of frostbite usually go away with small damage, but more severe frostbite can lead to irreversible loss or change of affected tissue. In the extreme cases require amputation or surgical removal purulent necrotic tissue. Your vet will discuss with you diagnosis results and treatment plan for your dog.

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