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Dr. Courtney Campbell, host of “Vet Candy Watch,” shares cold weather health tips for pets.

Hypothermia is less than 100.5°F. Normal body temperature of dogs and cats is between 101 and 102.5°F. Hypothermia signs could include being lethargic and loss of appetite.

Regardless of the cause, the low temperature indicates that the pet is in need of urgent veterinary attention. Hypothermia may be a sign of other serious illness (i.e., diabetes, heart failure, shock or serious infection, among others). Contribute to shock and organ failure. It is very important that hypothermic pets receive medical attention right away.

WHAT TO DO:

• Move the pet to a warm environment.

• Bundle the pet in warm blankets. You can warm the blankets by putting them in a clothes dryer.

• Put a hot water bottle in the blankets to add heat.

• Seek veterinary attention.

• Passive external rewarming (per) is typically used to treat mild hypothermia and involves placing the dog or cat in a warm environment and providing towels, blankets, or articles of clothing (e.g., sweaters) to help the patient regain thermal homeostasis. Animals treated with per must be able to generate heat (e.g., shiver) to be effective. Per is the slowest method for treating hypothermia.

• AER (active external rewarming) involves the application of external heat sources such as heating blankets, radiant heat lamps, heated rice bags, or immersion in warm water. Overall these methods tend to be non-invasive, inexpensive, readily available, and are easily employable rewarming methods. There are a variety of ways to maintain an envelope of warm air around hypothermic patients. Convection-type warm air devices and electrically conductive fabric warmers are fantastic. At least 60% of the body surface area must be in contact with the external heat source for rewarming efforts to be most effective.

WHAT NOT TO DO:

• Do not risk causing burns by using blankets, heating pads, water, etc., that are too hot; that may damage the skin.

• Do not use excess superficial heat. This may cause superficial blood vessels to dilate, resulting in shock.

• Do not allow the pet to lie directly on a heating pad - use several layers of towels and make sure it is set on low.

FROSTBITE:

• Frostbite is due to prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures or contact with frozen metal objects. Frostbite may affect the tips of the ears, digits, scrotum, and tail tip.

• These areas are poorly insulated by the hair, and the blood vessels are not protected. Frozen skin appears pale and is cool to the touch. In severe cases, the skin becomes necrotic (dead) and sloughs.

• Frozen tissues should be handled gently and thawed by the application of warm water. In severe cases, amputation of the affected part may be necessary.

ICE-MELTING PRODUCTS:

• Sweet taste to pets

• Vomiting, seizures, cns depression

• “drunkeness”

• Death

• Antifreeze has a pleasant taste. Unfortunately, very small amounts can be lethal. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a cat; less than four teaspoons can be dangerous to a 10-pound dog. Thoroughly clean up any spills, store antifreeze in tightly closed containers and store in secured cabinets. Automotive products such as gasoline, oil and antifreeze should be stored in areas that are inaccessible to your pets. Propylene glycol is a safer form of antifreeze. Low tox brand antifreeze contains propylene glycol and is recommended to use in pet households.

• First aid for antifreeze: if you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA animal poison control center (1-888-4-ANI-HELP) right away!

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