What is Hypothermia in Dogs And How Is It Treated?

Snow, cold, biting wind and a penetrating wet: Winter is a challenge for humans and animals. While we mate with a hat, scarf, and thick gloves, the dogs have their warm coat. But is this really enough or can dogs freeze? How do I know that my dog ​​is too cold and how can I prevent hypothermia in the dog?

Can dogs feel cold?

Wolves, deer, rabbits, or wild boars – many wild animals spend the whole winter outdoors and never seem to freeze. After all, they have a protective coat that successfully repels cold and wet conditions. But does this natural protective mantle also work with our dogs? 
As a descendant of the wolf also dogs usually have a thick coat, which reliably protects them from the cold. While many dogs show excessive heat, most dogs do not seem to mind snow, wind, or cold wind. But this impression can be deceiving. In fact, our dogs may freeze or even chill. But why is that?

Why some dogs freeze more than others?

With the Domestication of the domestic dogs, “the best friend” of us humans adapted more and more to our living conditions. While most dogs used to work as pure working dogs, who spent their entire life outside in the yard or in the pasture, they live together with us in the house today and have – just like us – the dry air and the warming heating used to in winter. 

With the breeding of pure domestic and fashion dogs, the need for a protective winter coat has disappeared. Some of the dog breeds are known today For example, they do not have a thick undercoat that protects, for example, large shepherds and working dogs from the winter cold. Especially small, short-haired dogs with a thin coat freeze very fast. Even dogs with southern origins feel the cold stronger than, say, sled dogs, which are always used to snow and icy wind.

Factors that influence the cold feeling of dogs

Whether a dog freezes or not depends so much on the breed and the condition of the fur. Dobermans, greyhounds, boxers, and all toy dogs suffer much more from the cold, for example than huskies or Bernese mountain dogs, But other factors can affect the cold feeling of dogs. 

When it comes to the question of whether or not a dog can get too cold, age, health, and weight also play a big role. Dogs with arthritis are extremely sensitive to cold, even older seniors or lightweight dogs have little to oppose the cold. In summary, the question of whether your dog freezes quickly or not depends on the following five factors:
  • race
  • fur texture
  • Older
  • health status
  • mass

How do I know that my dog ​​is freezing?

Of course, a stronger sense of cold does not automatically mean that your dog is really cold. Even a small dog without a dense undercoat can feel well in the snow, for example, when he moves a lot, jumps around, or chases after a ball. Finally, the muscles warm up under the movement. 

But when do I know that my dog ​​is getting too cold outside and it’s time to go back to the warming house with him? If you watch your dog well, you can recognize typical symptoms and prevent upcoming hypothermia in a good time. Certain behaviors and postures indicate that your dog is freezing. These include in particular the following four symptoms:

  • Cramped posture; The dog pulls up his back and pinches the rod.
  • Trembling: The dog buckles his coat and starts to shiver
  • Restlessness: The dog shows clear signs of malaise. He whines or urges home.
  • Listlessness: The dog slows down, looks sleepy, and driftless overall.

If your dog exhibits one or more of these symptoms, you should return to your return home as soon as possible and move to a warmer place.
 By the way: The tremor does not necessarily have to be a sign of cold, emotional, stress-related situations, or even various illnesses that can cause the dog to tremble. In this case, however, the tremor does not stop even in the warm house.

This will get your dog warm again

Back in the warm home, the dog usually warms up quickly, the shaking stops and he relaxes. Drafts or too cold surfaces (tiles, laminate) should be avoided at all costs. Create warm blankets and keep your four-legged friends cuddly warm in their traditional sleeping place. 

If your dog prefers to lie next to his basket on the floor, a warming rug, a polystyrene pad or a thick blanket can be helpful. From hot stoves, radiators, and radiant heaters, you should keep it away for protection against burns, however.

How is the dog hypothermia?

How is the dog hypothermia?

Despite all precautions and observation of possible symptoms, it can happen that a dog over cooled. Naturally short-haired and small dogs, who start to freeze at temperatures around freezing, are particularly at risk for hypothermia. But even larger dogs with a long, thick coat are not entirely immune to hypothermia.

 An ice bath in winter, a wet coat in icy winds, or a long wait outside the supermarket on frozen ground can lead to hypothermia even in healthy and robust dogs. A sharp fall in body temperature to levels of 30 ° C and less can lead to serious health risks. 

When you touch it, your dog already feels very cold or shivers, even though the dog is still out in the cold, This is a life-threatening warning signal. Because dogs that are already severely over cooled, are no longer able to tremble. Therefore, if you detect any of the following symptoms in your dog, you need to act quickly:
  • Very strong, uninterrupted tremors
  • Pale to bluish shimmering oral mucous
  • Ice cold ears, paws, and tail
  • Declining tremor, although the dog is still exposed to the cold
  • Flat breath and weak pulse
  • Lethargy (dog is lying there quietly)
Can dogs feel cold?