Hypothermia Emergencies

December 1st, 2015

With the first snowfall, we know winter is here and likewise, the risk for our pets to suffer from hypothermia. Here is what you need to know to prevent or deal with pet hypothermia.

Signs

Shivering (excessive, relentless), lethargy, weakness, inability to use limbs.

Action

Move your pet away from the wind and cold into a warm place and wrap your pet in warm, dry blankets or clothing.

Do not rub your pet with the blankets, this can damage cold tissue and make frostbite worse.

Try to raise your pet’s body temperature slowly over the course of 20 minutes. Warm water bottles (wrapped in towels to avoid direct contact with skin) can be used under the blankets to help increase your pet’s temperature. Do not use electric heat in any form.

To take your pet’s temperature, use only an approved rectal thermometer. Normal temperature should be 100° to 102.5°. If an area is discolored (bluish or pale), the body part or skin may have been frozen and is exhibiting signs of frostbite. Take the pet out of the cold and transport to the nearest veterinary hospital.

Dealing with a pet emergency can be frightening. Knowing the signs of common pet emergencies and what you can do to alleviate your pet’s pain is an important safety precaution to take. The American Red Cross has a Pet First Aid mobile app complete with videos and tutorials on many emergency situations that can help you in an emergency situation.

Of course, whenever your pet is showing serious signs of a health issue, your first step is to contact your primary care veterinarian or an emergency veterinary hospital. If it is indicated that your pet may suffer from a serious condition, a veterinary specialist or emergency clinician is available at an ExpertVet certified hospital.