Frostbite in Pets! Your Carmel Animal Clinic Explains Cold Weather Pet Dangers

Frostbite in Pets!  Your Carmel Animal Clinic Explains Cold Weather Pet Dangers

When the temperature drops below freezing, it can affect our dogs and cats too even though they have have fur all over their body.  A protective adaptation to extreme cold is to shunt blood away from the extremities to the core organs.  This decreased blood flow can lead to frostbite in dogs and cats.

How can I recognize frostbite in dogs and cats?

I rarely see cat and dog frostbite at my Carmel animal clinic, but that is because most of our beloved pets stay inside with us during extreme weather conditions. ¬†Frostbite will only develop with prolonged exposure to the cold. ¬†A quick trip outside to go potty will NOT cause frostbite, although it may cause limping for a few seconds if it’s cold enough. ¬†Frostbite in dogs is more likely to occur if there is strong winds if your dog got wet. ¬†The lesions typically occur in outer parts of the body that have less hair. ¬†The paws, the ear tips, tail, the scrotum are the most common areas for frostbite in dogs. ¬†The affected areas of frostbite may be red and painfully tender, or in more serious cases blue, cold, and non-painful. ¬†Later the skin may die and become black and leathery.

What should I do to treat frosbite in dogs and cats?

If you think your pet has frostbite, bring them inside right away.  Thaw any affected areas of skin with warm water for several minutes.  The water should NOT be scalding hot between 100-110 degrees is ideal.  Do NOT massage or rub the area, but blot dry after thawing.  Then wrap your pet in warm blankets.  Antibiotic ointments are useful in preventing secondary infection to the damaged frostbitten tissues.  Call your Carmel animal clinic for an exam and further treatment such as pain medication.  It is also important to prevent your pet for self-trauma for the 2 weeks after the freezing frostbite injury.

The best treatment for pet frostbite is prevention.  If you have a small dog with a short hair, put a sweater on during extreme cold weather and keep the outside time to short potty breaks to help avoid a trip to your Carmel animal clinic.  For more information on our Caring Hands Compassionate Hearts, click on this link to our Carmel Animal Clinic.

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