Preventing Weather-Related Hypothermia in Dogs and Cats

Hypothermia in dogs and cats can be fatal, especially if you have a small or short-haired pet. Nevertheless, even long-haired pets can suffer from this condition if they are exposed to extremely cold weather. When hypothermia begins to develop, your dog or cat’s body will lose its ability to maintain a normal temperature.

Preventing Weather-Related Hypothermia in Dogs and Cats

This, in turn, can cause many serious pet health problems including frostbite of the extremities, irregular heartbeats, difficulty breathing and loss of consciousness. If the condition is left untreated, the heart and lungs will cease to function resulting in death.

Symptoms of Hypothermia in Dogs and Cats

Symptoms of dog and cat hypothermia may vary depending upon the severity of your pet’s condition. Of course, advanced cases of hypothermia will cause more serious symptoms while mild cases may only show a bit of shivering. Nevertheless, listed below you will find some of the most common signs of cat and dog hypothermia.

Mild Cases

  • Shivering
  • Weakness
  • Lack of Mental Alertness
  • Muscle Stiffness
  • Paleness

Severe Cases

  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Inaudible Heartbeat
  • Shallow, Slow Breathing
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Stupor-Like State
  • Fixed and Dilated Pupils
  • Coma

Treatments for Hypothermia in Dogs and Cats

The goal of treating hypothermic pets is to bring their body temperatures back up to a normal range. While treatment is being administered, movement must be minimized to prevent cardiac arrhythmia or any further heat loss. Mild cases of hypothermia can be treated with blankets and thermal insulation to help prevent further heat loss.

However, more severe cases will require active, external re-warming. This typically includes such heat sources as heating pads or lamps, which will help to warm your pet’s inner core and encourage its body temperature to rise. In extreme cases, oxygen administration may be required, and it may be necessary to warm your pet through the use of warm-water enemas or warm IV fluids.

Pets Most Vulnerable to Hypothermia

Hypothermia is best prevented by limiting your pet’s exposure to cold temperatures. This is especially important for small pets and those with short hair. Other animals that are particularly vulnerable to hypothermia are very young pets, seniors, thin pets and pets that have been ill or have recently undergone surgery.

Hypothermia Prevention Do’s and Dont’s

As stated above the best way to prevent your dog or cat from developing hypothermia is to limit its exposure to cold temperatures. If you feel cold, your pet feels cold too. As such, there are several things you should and should not do for your pet during the winter, and they are listed here.

  • Do Bring Your Pet Indoors When it is Cold Outside
  • Do Not Leave Your Pet Outdoors During Cold Weather
  • Do Not Leave Your Pet in a Garage or Shed
  • Do Provide Your Pet With a Warm Bed or Blanket 
  • Do Place Your Pet’s Bed Away from Doors/Drafts
  • Do Provide Special Pet Sweaters for Short-Haired and Small Pets

Cat and dog hypothermia is a serious condition that can quickly turn fatal if treatment is not administered immediately. Of course, the best way to prevent hypothermia from developing in your pet is to make sure that you keep it warm during the cold months of winter.

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