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HYPOTHERMIA – COLD

With this very cold weather we are experiencing in South Africa I decided to include this in the event of your pet becoming hypothermic.

Hypothermia takes place when the dog’s core body temperature drops dangerously low. A dog’s normal body temperature is 38.3 to 38.8 degrees Celsius. Hypothermia occurs when the dog’s temperature drops below 36 degrees C.

Prolonged exposure to cold temperatures or an accidental fall into cold water can cause hypothermia.  Severely sick dogs may also show signs of hypothermia and this would need emergency veterinary care. A dog’s body will lose heat more quickly in water (or if wet) than in air. The temperature outside does not have to be below freezing for the dog to experience hypothermia.

There are three levels for canine hypothermia:

1. MILD
The dog shivers uncontrollably.
          Will begin to act tired or lethargic
Temperature is between 35.5 to 37.2 C

2. MODERATE
Loses the ability to shiver!
Pulse and breathing slows and the dog may lose consciousness
Will lose coordination and appear clumsy
Temperature 32.2 to 35 degrees C
The dog’s life is in serious danger!

3. SEVERE
The dog will have collapsed and  have trouble breathing
The  pupils are dilated and the dog will be unresponsive
Temperature 27.8 to 32.2 C
This dog must be transported to an emergency hospital immediately or he will die!


How to treat hypothermia.

Get the dog out of the wind or open area and place in a vehicle. Turn the heater on, keep rubbing his body and try to dry the dog as much as possible. If the dog is small enough, put the animal inside your coat for your body heat to help him increase his body core temperature.

Put towels into the tumble dryer. Use a hair dryer to warm the dog (on the lowest setting to prevent burning the skin). Keep rubbing or massaging his limbs to keep the circulation going. Once the towels are warm (not hot!) put them around the dog and keep rubbing him vigorously.    
Hot water bottles can be placed outside the towels or blanket to prevent burns as the skin is very sensitive. When the dog starts to shiver again, you will know that he is beginning to recover and his brain recognizes that he is cold and needs to warm up. Monitor his temperature and stop warming him when the temperature reaches 38.3 C.

Watch his vital signs and even if his temperature gets back to normal the dog can still experience shock. Therefore transport your dog to the veterinary hospital.

                 

 
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