Proven Ways to Keep Your Dog Safe from Dangerous Frostbite

Although winter has had a mild start, there’s no doubt that colder temperatures and snow are coming. Unfortunately, winter wonderlands can pose several threats to your dog’s health. The biggest concern during winter is frostbite. Frostbite is a painful condition that typically affects the extremities, like toes, paws, noses, ears and scrotum on male dogs.

Frostbite occurs when the body is exposed to extremely cold and wet conditions, and the cells begin to freeze and die. Over time, the skin becomes cold, numb, pale and rigid. Untreated frostbite can lead to limb loss and lifelong pain! That’s why it’s crucial to prevent – and quickly detect – frostbite in your dogs. Here, the experts at Landheim K9 offer tips and signs to help you prevent and detect frostbite in your furry friends.

How to Prevent Frostbite for Your Furry Friend

Frostbite typically sets in two ways: exposure to extremely cold temperatures or extremely cold objects, such as snow, ice or frozen metals. The best thing you can do for your dog this winter is to prevent frostbite by taking the following steps.

  • Dress your pup appropriately: Although snowshoes and winter coats may seem silly for your furry friend, they are especially helpful for preventing frostbite. For smaller dogs and dogs not suited to winter temperatures, look for insulated snow booties to wear when outside for extended periods. 
  • Limit outdoor time in extreme temps: Some dogs thrive in winter weather, like Huskies, Akitas, Norwegian elkhounds and various mountain dogs. However, most dogs are not bred for extremely cold temperatures. Look up your dog’s breed to better understand what temperatures they can tolerate. For dogs that aren’t bred for cold weather, limit their outdoor time during extreme cold snaps. Opt for stimulating games and mental puzzles to keep your dog entertained inside. 
  • Wipe paws once they enter: After being outside, immediately wipe excess snow and ice from your dog’s paws. If they have a lot of snow and ice stuck to their paw pads, fur or between their toes, consider wrapping them in a warm towel to thaw the ice and gradually warm their paws. Do not run their paws under hot water; this can cause more pain and damage when too much blood flows back into the area at once.
  • Clear paths through the snow: Removing excess snow and ice is crucial. Clear a path through your yard so your dog walks through less snow when going outside. Doing this decreases the likelihood of snow and ice sticking to the skin, which can cause frostbite.  

5 Important Signs of Frostbite to Watch Out For

Unfortunately, frostbite can still happen even when we try our best to prevent it. Knowing the signs of frostbite is crucial to ensure you can get your dog the help they need. If you notice any of the following signs after your dog has been exposed to extremely cold temperatures or freezing water, immediately take your dog to the veterinarian:

  • Pain on the paw pads or lower limbs
  • Discoloration, especially skin or paw pads that appear blue, black, gray or paler/whiter than normal
  • Ice on the fur or skin surrounding the affected area, especially between the toes or caked between paw pads
  • Blisters and open sores or ulcers
  • Symptoms of hypothermia, a condition that often accompanies frostbite, including tiredness, muscle stiffness, shaking, shallow breathing, low blood pressure and eye dilation

If you’re keeping your dog inside this winter to help prevent frostbite, your dog (and you) may be feeling stir-crazy. Fortunately, a great way to get your dog mental stimulation and engagement is training! Landheim K9 offers exceptional training classes to keep your dog engaged and well-behaved. Contact us today to learn more about our classes. 

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