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HYPOTHERMIA IN DOGS: How Cold is too Cold?

Dogs left outside in cold weather can develop HYPOTHERMIA – a dangerous condition when a dog’s core body temperature drops too low. A dog’s regular temperature is around 102 degrees F. Mild hypothermia begins in dogs when their temperature falls below 99 degrees F. Frostbite can also be an issue at extreme low temperatures too. If a dog is left out too long and hypothermia sets in, it can result in cardiac and respiratory failure, brain damage, coma, and even death.

  • “Mild Hypothermia: body temperature of 90-99 degrees F

  • Moderate hypothermia: body temperature of 82-90 degrees F

  • Severe hypothermia: any temperature less than 82degrees F “

Signs of Hypothermia in Dogs:

Early signs are shivering and curling up for warmth and other signs that can be more serious are:

  • “Increased hearth rate followed by a slow heart rate

  • Rapid breathing followed by progressively slower and shallower breath

  • Sluggishness and delayed reflexes

  • Depression

  • Dilated pupils

  • Loss of consciousness “

What Dogs are more susceptible: Seniors, new-born pups, smaller dogs, short-haired dogs and most any dog if left out in extreme cold temperatures.

What if you think your dog is suffering from hypothermia?

  1. Bring your dog in to a warmer setting and watch the reaction on whether it is more serious action or not.

  2. Contact your vet if you feel this would help in your decision

  3. Take your dog’s temperature as soon as you can

“Mild hypothermia can typically be treated with insulation products and blankets.”

“Moderate hypothermia will require active external heat sources such as radiant heat (in addition to a protective layer such as a sweater) “.

“Severe hypothermia requires invasive core warming such as warm IV fluids.”

Preventing Hypothermia:

  • Warm dog jacket or sweater and dog booties help minimize this problem. However, clothing on your dogs should never be wet or stay wet and also dogs should not be left unattended in clothing.

  • Have dogs in a controlled temperature setting area except for going outside for short periods.

  • Make sure dog is dry before taking them out for a walk. They would be victims of frostbite.

  • Keep winter walks short when possible for both humans and dogs

  • When in doubt call your vet


Information gathered from the AKC article of the same title.

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