Being in the Michigan area we all know how cold it can get during the winter, so we bundle up. Did you ever think how important it is to bundle up your animal too? All those coats, sweaters, and boots aren’t just to be fashionable, they actually serve a serious purpose! Animals can experience frostbite just as people do, except we may not be as aware of their suffering. The most affected areas are those first to lose bloodflow, such as the ears, nose, genitals, and toes. Leaving your pet outside for an extended period of time can predispose them to frostbite.
What’s The Mechanism Behind Frostbite?
It’s quite simple actually. When the body gets cold, blood vessels constrict in order to conserve heat and keep the organs warm. The ears, nose, and toes are furthest away from these important organs so they are the first to lose blood flow in an effort to protect the body. In doing so the tissues in these areas will quickly start to lose nutrition (carried by blood vessels and stored in the blood). If an area of the body becomes the same temperature as it’s surroundings, after several hours it can die completely.
How Do We Prevent It?
The best way to prevent frostbite is to keep your animal warm and inside. When letting the animal out, do so for limited amounts of time. Never let your animal outside when he/she is wet as this can expedite the frostbite process.
If My Animal Gets Frostbite, What Do I Do?
The first thing you should do is call your veterinarian. They will give you instructions on how to handle everything. From what I’ve seen, the best thing you can do is warm the area back up slowly and keep it warm using warm water, never hot. Using any indirect heat is a BAD idea. Always dry the area thoroughly and keep the animal warm when transporting to the vet.
What’s The Ultimate Lesson Here?
Frostbite is COMPLETELY preventable! Be vigilant of your animal and keep them nice and warm and crisis can be averted.