Latest News

Coping with the Cold

17 / Jun / 2019


Hypothermia occurs when the body's temperature falls and the pet cannot maintain a normal temperature. Decreased body temperatures can affect the central nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory and immune system.

Hypothermia is characterised by 3 phases:

Mild 32-35°C
Moderate 28-32°C
Severe <28°C

Juvenile, geriatric, small breeds, sick pets or those under a general anaesthesia are more prone to hypothermia.

A pets ability to tolerate cold weather depends on their age, health, coat thickness, fat stores and activity level.

As a general rule, when temperatures drop below 4°C, pets should not spend prolonged amounts of time outdoors.

Signs

Common signs of hypothermia:

  • Shivering
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Dilated pupils
  • Coma

Causes

Causes of hypothermia:

  • Left out in the cold
  • Wet fur
  • Swimming in cold water
  • Shock
  • Elderly pets
  • Illness
  • Newborn pets
  • General anaesthesia

Management

Management of mild hypothermia:

  • Blankets
  • Heat sources such as heaters or heat pads or hair dryer
  • Warm water bottles
  • Warm fluids to drink

The goal is to check the rectal temperature every 10 minutes until it reaches 37.5°C in which all heat sources can be removed except for room heating.

In severe cases, veterinary attention involves invasive core warming, warm fluid therapy and oxygen.

Tips

Tips to help prevent hypothermia:

  • Avoiding excessive time outdoors
  • Provide indoor heating
  • Use of pet clothing (jackets, boots etc)
  • Incubation for newborns
  • Do not allow pets to swim in cold weather
  • Dry the pet's fur and skin if wet
  • Decrease walking route length and duration in cold weather
  • Consider indoor activities such as hiding treats, food contraptions, puzzles
  • Avoid walking geriatric or arthritis pets on snow or ice
  • Check the paws daily for cracked or bleeding foot pads

Coping with the Cold

x