Senior Dogs and the Weather…(be careful, and be kind!)

Extreme cold is not good for long periods of time

My usual rant about dogs in general and the weather happens in the summertime when it never fails I end up calling the police at least once to get a dog out of a closed car, or a car where people thought it was ok to leave the windows “cracked” a little.

This winter has been so extremely cold for our area, especially compared to last winter (which was a free pass on the gas bills), that I am moved to write about your pets and the cold.

It’s now illegal in many states to leave a pet in a car in the summer; I think it should be illegal to leave a pet outside in the extreme cold as well.

To anyone doing this or considering doing this, I would suggest putting on a light coat and going outside without boots or gloves for a few hours and seeing how you like it and how you feel.

All dogs, especially older dogs, dogs with low body fat and those battling disease should be kept from prolonged exposure to cold temperatures.  An irregular heartbeat, trouble breathing, and impaired consciousness to the point of coma may result, so this not coddling or being a softie; this is a serious health risk for your pet.

There are three levels of Hypothermia, mild, moderate and severe, and the symptoms and treatment you would have to provide vary according to the level of the animal’s trouble.

Mild hypothermia is characterized by weakness and shivering and can be accompanied by a lack of mental alertness.  A moderate problem would involve stiffness of the muscles, shallow breathing, low blood pressure; the dog can appear to be in a state of stupor.  With severe hypothermia , the animal would be having trouble breathing, pupils would be fixed and dialated and he could be in a coma.

Mild hypothermia can be treated with blankets to prevent further heat loss, while moderate hypothermia requires active external re-warming with a hot water bottle, microwaved heat packs or a heating pad.  Apply the heat source to your dog’s body, but be sure to put a protective layer between the heating pad and his skin to protect him from burns.. For severe hypothermia, invasive core warming will be necessary, so you’ll need to involve your vet if this is the case.

Hypothermia can be prevented by avoiding prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, so be careful and be kind!

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