Emergency conditions

Hypothermia and frostbite in dogs and cats

Hypothermia is a term that refers to heat loss to a greater extent than it is produced in the body. At the same time, the body temperature drops below the level that is optimal for homeothermic organisms. Hypothermia in animals can occur primarily as a consequence of exposure to low external temperatures when the body cannot maintain adequate body temperature through physiological processes. Secondarily, hypothermia occurs as a consequence of serious systemic diseases or injuries, as well as due to the action of drugs, where the body is not able to maintain a normal body temperature, regardless of the fact that the ambient temperature is not low.

dog in the snow

When the body temperature drops to the level of 32-37oC, we talk about mild hypothermia, when it is in the values ​​of 28-32oC, we talk about significant hypothermia, and values ​​below 28oC refer to pronounced hypothermia.

Lowering body temperature, regardless of the cause, has extensive systemic consequences and will lead, to a greater or lesser extent, to disorders in the work of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and neurological systems. There are also effects on metabolism, the immune system, the hematological system, but also on the urinary and gastrointestinal systems.

It is very important that a patient who has been exposed to low temperatures and who is in a state of hypothermia or has a low temperature due to systemic disorders is adequately examined, stabilized and that adequate therapy is prescribed depending on the cause of hypothermia.

The reaction of the owner with dogs and cats that are in hypothermia is very important and according to the advice of the veterinarian, the procedure of bringing the patient is of great importance. The warming process must be gradual, it is by no means advisable to suddenly expose the animal to any heat source or to raise the body temperature abruptly.

Frostbite is a change in the skin and tissues that occurs as a result of tissue freezing. It is mostly frostbite on protruding and peripheral parts of the body, such as ears, tail, paws, scrotum, but any part of the body can be affected. They are formed upon contact with the frozen liquid, metal, glass.

The altered site is often pale or cyanotic, cold to the touch, hyper or hypersensitized, with erythema, edema, and soreness present. As with burns, the prognosis depends on the area affected and how long the tissue has been exposed. If these changes are noticed, consult a veterinarian for advice on how to treat the animal, as well as what are the next steps in therapy.