First aid for dog hypothermia: How to act in cold weather
Hypothermia can affect not only humans but also our four-legged friends. Dogs are prone to hypothermia, especially in cold weather, and it's important to know what to do if your dog gets hypothermia. The following tips will give you information on how to provide first aid and minimize the risk to your furry companion.
A healthy dog has a temperature of 38-39 degrees. The most at-risk group of dogs includes senior dogs, puppies, sick dogs, and dogs without undercoats. However, if the body temperature drops below 35 degrees it means the dog is hypothermic. If it drops below 33 degrees, the dog's life is in danger.
How to tell if a dog is cold? If you see that the dog has started to shiver, has tucked its tail under its body, and may also have matted hair, it's a good idea to move the dog to warmth as soon as possible. Otherwise, hypothermia can set in very quickly. This is most likely to happen if the dog is wet (gets wet on a walk or decides to go swimming - in the worst case, breaks through the ice into the water), and if the dog stays in cold, frosty weather for a long time (especially for the above-mentioned vulnerable groups of dogs).
The first step to first aid is to recognize the signs of hypothermia. The symptoms may include:
- Shivering and trembling of the dog: this is the body's natural reaction to trying to keep warm.
- Slowed reactions: the dog may react more slowly than usual or may be sleepy.
- Loss of interest in the surroundings: may seem apathetic or lose interest in surrounding events.
- Pale or bluish gums: Indicates a lack of oxygen in the blood.
First aid in case of hypothermia
Rule number one is: to warm the dog up gradually as soon as possible. We say gradually to avoid temperature shock, which can occur if you decide to warm the dog up with a hairdryer or a warm shower. Also, you cannot immediately cool down an overheated dog with cold water. When warming up the dog gradually, follow this procedure:
- Move the dog to a warm place: immediately move the dog to a warm environment to minimize exposure to cold.
- Warm the dog: provide warmth for the dog. Cover the dog with a warm blanket or clothing. You can also use heaters (warm bags or hot water bottles wrapped in a towel) placed around the dog's body.
- Check vital signs (pulse, breathing)
- Observe the thermal state: watch how the dog warms up. It is not advisable to overheat him, so watch his reactions carefully.
- Contact the vet: Even if the dog appears to be warmed up, it is important to consult a veterinarian to rule out possible complications associated with hypothermia.
If the dog is at a stage of hypothermia where it has fallen unconscious, start CPR and take it to the vet immediately, as the dog's life and minutes are at stake at that moment.
To avoid hypothermia, we should take several precautions:
- Suitable clothing: For dogs that are prone to hypothermia, there are special dog suits to help keep them warm.
- Limit exposure to cold: Reduce the amount of time the dog spends outdoors in cold weather, especially in extremely cold temperatures.
- Warm and dry environment: Make sure the dog has a warm and dry place to rest.
Remember that every dog is an individual, so it is important to monitor their reactions and tailor the help provided to their needs. If there is any doubt or continuing problems, consult your vet. Providing a safe and warm environment for your dog is key to his health and well-being.