Identifying hypothermia

by | General Pet Care |

A lot of pets enjoy being outside! They thrive on fresh air and exercise. But in the frigid temperatures that come with the winter season, there are big dangers, such as hypothermia. Learn more about how to prevent hypothermia and how to recognize the signs.


Prevention is essential. While some animals may have a thick enough coat to stay comfortable most of the time, wind can affect their ability to stay warm. If it’s windy enough to lift the fur, cold gets direct access to vulnerable skin. This is why listening to the “windchill” reports is crucial. The combination of the temperature and the wind is critical.

If your animal spends extended periods of time outside, they will need to have ready and accessible access to a proper shelter so they can get out of the wind when they need to.

What do to if you suspect hypothermia 

First off, if you suspect hypothermia or have any questions or concerns, please contact your veterinarian right away. Hypothermia is a very serious drop in body temperature. All furry friends are at risk, but younger and older animals, animals with short or matted hair, as well as animals with underlying medical issues may be especially vulnerable.

Mild signs of hypothermia include shivering. Your animal may also hunch up their body.  If you notice these signs, you should feel extremities like feet, ears and tail to see how cold they are. These areas are especially susceptible to frostbite and may appear very pale and be painful to touch. Frostbite can develop over several days, so it is important to monitor very carefully after prolonged exposure to the cold.

Move your furry friend into a warm environment, and warm up a bath towel in the dryer to bundle up your furry friend. As hypothermia progresses, furry friends may stop shivering and may become more lethargic and confused. They may also have pale gums, and develop stiff muscles and difficulty walking. 

Caution is also needed when warming up areas of frostbite. These areas need to be warmed up gently and slowly. Your veterinarian will help to provide specific instructions tailored to your furry friend’s needs.

Be proactive and keep your furry family members warm and safe this winter season.