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If you’re a responsible pet owner, then you’re probably well-aware of the dangers that cold weather can pose to your furry friend. Hypothermia is a serious condition that can occur when pets are exposed to cold temperatures for too long, and it’s important to know how to spot the signs so that you can get your pet the help they need. Stay safe this winter, and keep your pet warm!

Hypothermia signs in pets

When a pet becomes too cold, its body responds by shunting blood away from the extremities to the core to ensure the organs stay warm. If your pet develops hypothermia, you may notice the following signs as their body temperature drops:

  • Shivering
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums
  • Confusion
  • Shallow or slowed breathing
  • Irregular or delayed heart rate
  • Dilated pupils

As hypothermia worsens, your pet will stop shivering and may slip into a coma. Keep an eye out for initial hypothermia signs to prevent your pet from becoming too cold.

Hypothermia risk factors for pets

While hypothermia can affect any pet, some have a more increased risk. They include:

  • Very young or old pets
  • Shorthaired pets
  • Small pets
  • Pets unused to cold conditions
  • Pets with heart or kidney disease
  • Pets in shock
  • Pets with endocrine disorders

Environmental factors that can make hypothermia more likely include:

  • Wet conditions
  • Strong winds
  • Rapidly dropping temperatures

Hypothermia prevention in pets

When heading outside with your four-legged friend, take the following steps to keep them warm, dry, and at a normal body temperature:

  • Put a waterproof coat on your pet
  • Keep your pet away from melting ice and slush
  • Outfit your pet with well-fitting booties to protect their paws
  • Dry your pet thoroughly when you come back inside
  • Walk in areas sheltered from strong winds by trees and buildings

If, despite your best efforts, your pet becomes hypothermic, warm them up by bringing them indoors. Dry them off and wrap them in warm towels out of the dryer. You also can use a hot water bottle to help increase your pet’s body temperature, but wrap it in a towel to avoid placing it directly on their skin.

Hypothermia can be a life-threatening condition for your pet without immediate treatment. Contact our team for help if your four-legged friend’s body temperature drops below 98 degrees.