Frostbite and Dogs

Deb D’Andrea
Nederland, CO
It’s been so cold this week, my girls have only wanted to briefly run outdoors to do their business and happily race right back inside to be warm and cozy.  They’re smart and know even with their fur coats, it’s no match for how quickly cold can set in.  I always keep an eye on them as they can get frostbite and/or hypothermia which won’t take long in these temperatures.

Regardless of the big sad puppy eyes, there’s definitely no car rides when I’m heading out unless it’s a quick trip to drop off mail or an errand where the car heat is always on.  In these temperatures, the car gets cold very quickly without the heat on.  Bear with her Aussie thicker fur coat can stay warmer longer, but cold sets in quickly with Tiki and her thinner Blue Heeler coat.  They’re warm and cozy at home, and when the temperatures are warmer, we’ll be outside playing and going for car rides again.

Just because your dog has nice thick coat, don’t rely on that thickness as an indicator of how long they can remain outdoors as even the Northern double coated breeds can get cold.  With the cold temperatures we’ve been experiencing, never leave your dog outside for long or unattended with no way to come inside and get warm.  Your dog will thank you!  When my girls go out, I stand at the door and await their return.  If they’re out for more than five minutes, I give a call to come back in.  They’re typically back in three.

Some dogs enjoy wearing a winter jacket to keep them warm, something good to have for smooth coated dogs and dogs that have a tendency to get cold easily.  There are several types of winter coats, ones with pockets to carry treats and water to basic coats to keep them dry and warm.  Booties are also a great addition for foot protection during these cold winter months.  Tiki wears her booties and she realizes her toes don’t get cold as quickly; once even carrying her bootie back to me that came off in the middle of our field.

Areas of a dog’s body which are prone to frostbite are the tips of the ears, the tail, the paws and the toes.  Just like with us in a cold environment, their bodies try to keep their core warm by reducing the amount of blood flow to the outermost body parts.  A dog’s normal temperature range is 100.4 to 102.5, so in freezing or below freezing temperatures they can become cold quickly.  My rule of thumb is if I’m cold, they’re cold.

The simple act of warming their ears by gently rubbing them between your hands and checking their paws to remove snow will help prevent discomfort and frostbite.  Watch for variations in skin color from pale to gray, and when the skin warms up, it may be tender.  In severe cases, the skin will turn black and die within a few days.  Frostbite in dogs is very similar to frostbite in us.

So while out having fun, keep an eye on your pup to help ensure they stay safe and happy.  Till next time!  Deb D’Andrea, founder of 4TheLuvOfDogz, provides Petz Nanny Services, mobile Canine Massage, and Canine Agility.  Deb’s home-made dog treats are sold at local stores and K9Birthday Cakes are available direct.  Deb Petz Nanny’s for dogs, cats, birds, fish, horses, etc.  Contact Deb at 720-675-7078 or  HYPERLINK “”