Severe snow, wind and cold is here in the Midwest for a few days. Do you know how to protect your dog for severe weather?
Short haired, wet, and small dogs are most susceptible to hyperthermia and cold. Dogs that are kept outside can and will freeze without adequate shelter, bedding and food. Warm water is essential at this time also. It is best to put them inside if you can, but if not make sure of the shelter, warm bedding deep preferred so they can nest and tunnel. Some ideas for outside dog houses are Styrofoam insulation on the inside walls and roof. Make sure the opening is only large enough for the dog, and face it out of the direction of the wind.
With hypothermia, your dog is losing body heat faster than he can replace it. Some ways he tries to combat it is by goose bumps, vasoconstriction, and piloerection. Vasoconstriction is where blood supplies are redirected by the body to internal organs to keep them alive, hence little supply to legs, feet and ears.
Hypothermia symptoms are shivering, stiffness, low heart and breathing rates, collapse and coma. If you suspect your dog with low hypothermia symptoms move them to a warm room immediately with a warm floor, wrap in a blanket and take his temperature.
Moderate hypothermia symptoms can include the above and body temps of 90 degrees or less. Use warm water bottles, heat lamps and electric pads to warm them up. Make sure he is comfortable and monitor his internal temperatures.
Anything more than the above needs quick veterinary assistance. Hypothermia can cause lasting damage and your animal needs to be seen by a vet to determine the severity and consequences. It is much easier to prevent it than treat it.
Frostbite is difficult to determine with hair coats, but signs are very cold feet, ears, and tails is where it occurs most frequently. Frostbite needs to be addressed immediately and these areas can by rubbed and warmed to increase circulation.
Again, prevention means no long term association with extreme cold situations.
Remember, adequate food, water and warm shelter and they will be able to survive. Frostbite treatment is very similar to that of humans.