Hypothermia in Puppies: Recognizing and Treating

A chocolate Labrador exploring snow in Montreal, Canada.

Puppies with fur coats are not immune to hypothermia, a condition in which the pet's body temperature drops below normal. Puppies save body heat by seeking cover, curling up, and fluffing their fur to trap warm air near their skin. A short-haired puppy, on the other hand, has little protection; yet, shivering produces heat. The body of a puppy diverts blood circulation from the ear tips, toes, and tail to the center section of the body during cold conditions. The greatest policy is prevention, and the best preventative is to keep dogs indoors during rainy weather.

Normal Body Temperature

The usual temperature in adult dogs is between 100 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Puppies under the age of six weeks have difficulty controlling body temperature. That's why they snuggle up to their mother and sleep in puppy mounds with their siblings. Huddling reduces heat loss due to wind, and the various hairy bodies can share and augment each other's warmth, preventing a chilled puppy.

Outdoor Dangers

Hypothermia is most harmful for pets who live outside during the coldest months, but even moderately mild temperatures can be dangerous. A 20 mph wind reduces the temperature of 40 degrees to 18 degrees. The wind blows away the layer of warm air trapped between their skin and their fur. Even modest temperatures might become deadly as a result. Wet fur chills your puppy much more if it rains or snows and soaks it.

Mild to Moderate Hypothermia

Mild hypothermia occurs when body temperature falls between 90 degrees to F to 99 degrees F and causes pets to act a bit sluggish and lethargic. You’ll see muscle tremors and shivering.

Bring the puppy inside, dry him off, and increase the heat, and he should be OK. If you can't find a warm area for the pet, consider putting him inside your shirt to share your warmth.

A temperature of 82 degrees F to 90 degrees F is considered moderate hypothermia. These dogs can also be treated at home, however recovery may take longer. Wrap him in a warm towel or blanket, or wrap a heating pad in a blanket or towel and put it to the dog.


Severe Hypothermia

Severe hypothermia, defined as a body temperature below 82 degrees Fahrenheit, can be fatal. When the temperature drops below 90 degrees F, pets lose their capacity to shiver, therefore a motionless puppy is an indication of hypothermia. The dog's breathing and heart rate may slow to the point that the puppy seems to be dead. Although or rescue breathing may be required in some cases, you should avoid moving the puppy to prevent more heat loss.

Any pet with severe hypothermia—body blue and frigid, unable to shiver—requires rapid veterinarian attention. "Core rewarming," which refers to warming the creature from the inside using specialist veterinary treatments, is required when body temperature falls below 90 degrees F for more than 30 minutes.

After drying the dog, swaddle him with warm blankets. Because the femoral artery is close to the surface of the skin, it may be beneficial to put a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel to his groin region throughout the automobile trip to the emergency hospital. The hot water bottle placed to this location can assist warm the blood, allowing it to circulate more quickly and speeding up his recovery.

Severe hypothermia puts pets at danger of shock. Apply honey or Karo syrup on the puppy's gums. Because the sugar is absorbed by the tissue, it may help boost his blood sugar levels and prevent shock.

Veterinary Treatment

Warm intravenous fluids, warm water enemas, airway rewarming with oxygen, or even heart/lung bypass devices that warm the blood may be used to treat severely hypothermic dogs. Even with therapy, the prognosis in severe hypothermia is uncertain since organs and tissues are frequently irreversibly destroyed.

Pets that have suffered hypothermia in the past are at greater risk in the future for a relapse. Damage caused by the extreme cold reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.