Jump to section

What is Hypothermia?

It’s important to note that a mild case will not have all of the typical symptoms. It is still crucial to seek help for your dog. Listen to your instinct. If you think your dog may be suffering get him inside, begin treatment and call your veterinarian.

Hypothermia occurs when the dog’s core body temperature is below thirty-seven degrees Celsius or ninety-nine degrees Fahrenheit. Small, skinny, very young, or elderly dogs are the most at risk. Any breed can fall victim to hypothermia, but toy breeds and dogs with a short coat are more susceptible. Dogs with a pre-existing condition of low blood sugar or hypothyroidism are also considered to be more immediately threatened.

Hypothermia Average Cost

From 247 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,200

Symptoms of Hypothermia in Dogs

  • Shaking (sometimes violent)
  • Shallow breathing
  • Weakness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Coma 
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Blank stare 
  • Pale or blue gums
  • Listlessness

Types

  • Mild - Mild cases may be treated at home

  • Moderate - Moderate cases may also be treated successfully at home but the pet owner may decide to seek professional guidance
  • Severe -In severe cases, the dog needs the immediate help of a professional veterinarian as his life is imminently threatened
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Hypothermia in Dogs

Hypothermia can happen anytime your dog is exposed to cold, especially extreme temperatures. Take caution when exercising your dog in the winter. It can happen to dogs that live entirely out of doors in particular if they are not brought inside at least during inclement weather or do not have adequate shelter. A matted coat on a dog does not provide the same protection a well-groomed coat does. The mats allow wind and cold to get to the dog’s skin.

Dogs coming out of surgery can experience hypothermia if proper precautions are not taken by staff. Laying a dog on a cool table for surgery without a towel barrier can lead to hypothermia. Dogs should also be covered with warm towels during surgery. Depending on the length of time the dog is required to be under anesthesia, staff may consider warm water bottles under the arm or near the groin of the dog. Hypothermia can also be caused in dogs if the veterinary staff prepping him for surgery is too overzealous with the scrub solution. Sometimes heating pads are employed to avoid hypothermia induced by surgical proceedings.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Hypothermia in Dogs

Discussion with the veterinarian of the events leading up to the hypothermia will be important, as will talking about recent illnesses, medication if applicable, dietary changes, behavioral abnormalities, and vaccination history to date. Noting the clinical signs such as shivering or shallow breathing may lead the veterinarian to a diagnosis of hypothermia. Of course, this condition can also occur when a pet is under anesthesia; in these cases, the veterinary team will monitor all vital signs. The temperature reading of your pet will indicate the level of hypothermia, allowing for rapid treatment and establishment of proper body temperature.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Hypothermia in Dogs

Mild to moderate hypothermia care may be treated at home. To be certain of the technique, call the veterinary clinic as soon as you become concerned. Chances are, the recommendation to bring your pet into the clinic will be made.

Just like with humans, it is important to warm the body slowly. Do not attempt to treat your dog for hypothermia outside. Bring the dog indoors and wrap him in a warm blanket or towel. You may put a heating pad, warmed bottle, or rice bag near your pet for warmth. Wrap anything you place next to your dog in a towel to avoid burning. A hair dryer can be helpful if the dog is also wet. Be sure to turn down to the lowest setting or better yet use a dryer specified for dogs that has a no heat setting. It is imperative to avoid burns on your dog as you try to warm him. You can offer your dog warm water to drink with honey or sugar in it. His readiness to drink will also be an indication of his condition.

It is best not to delay or attempt  to warm your pet if he is listless or unresponsive. Immediate care is needed. Severe cases of hypothermia will require a visit to an emergency veterinary clinic for monitoring, oxygen, supportive therapy (carefully utilized heating pads and blankets) and warmed intravenous fluids. Assessment of tissue damage if any, may be necessary as well.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Hypothermia in Dogs

Recovery from hypothermia depends on the severity of the case. While the experience can be traumatizing for dog and owner alike, most dogs recover well. Preventative measures can effectively eliminate recurrence. If hiking with your dog, be sure he has foot protection as well as a sweater or coat. If you have a working dog that lives primarily outside be sure to observe weather predictions and make preparations for him in times of storms and extreme weather. Make sure any working dog has a well-groomed coat so it can do its job against inclement weather. Do not shy away from asking your veterinarian about the precautions he and his staff take when a dog is undergoing surgery especially if you have a toy breed thin or elderly dog.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Hypothermia Average Cost

From 247 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,200

arrow-up-icon

Top

Hypothermia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Pit Bull

dog-age-icon

One Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

My dog has had diarrhea for 3 days, chicken and rice diet didn't help. Pumpkin induces the diarrhea but is eating and drinking normally. responds well to warm bone broth, tried giving him peptobismol and immodium for the diarrhea but no changes

Aug. 20, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Sara O. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear about your dog. He may have parasites or something else causing him to have diarrhea. You can try probiotics or a dewormer to see if that helps. If he continues to have diarrhea, it would be best to see your vet. They can test his stool to see what is causing him to continue to have diarrhea and can start him on prescription medications to help his diarrhea.

Aug. 20, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Pit Bull

dog-age-icon

One Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

My dog has had diarrhea for 3 days, chicken and rice diet didn't help. Pumpkin induces the diarrhea but is eating and drinking normally. responds well to warm bone broth, tried giving him peptobismol and immodium for the diarrhea but no changes

Aug. 20, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Sara O. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear about your dog. He may have parasites or something else causing him to have diarrhea. You can try probiotics or a dewormer to see if that helps. If he continues to have diarrhea, it would be best to see your vet. They can test his stool to see what is causing him to continue to have diarrhea and can start him on prescription medications to help his diarrhea.

Aug. 20, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Pit Bull

dog-age-icon

One Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

My dog has had diarrhea for 3 days, chicken and rice diet didn't help. Pumpkin induces the diarrhea but is eating and drinking normally. responds well to warm bone broth, tried giving him peptobismol and immodium for the diarrhea but no changes

Aug. 20, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Sara O. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello, So sorry to hear about your dog. He may have parasites or something else causing him to have diarrhea. You can try probiotics or a dewormer to see if that helps. If he continues to have diarrhea, it would be best to see your vet. They can test his stool to see what is causing him to continue to have diarrhea and can start him on prescription medications to help his diarrhea.

Aug. 20, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Holly

dog-breed-icon

German Shepherd

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

N/A

We live in Houston TX. My 9yr old German Shepherd kept jumping in our pool when it 52 degrees outside, we left her out that night. The next morning we could tell that she had continued jumping in throughout the night(water all over the patio and she was still soaking wet). I dried her off- no shivering or anything. Unfortunately she passed away several hours later as she was getting out of the pool again. Our vet said it was most likely a heart attack and the reason for constantly getting in the pool was to try and cool off a fever. What are your thoughts? Does this sound like a heart attack?

March 15, 2018

Holly's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Without performing a necropsy on Holly, I cannot give any specific indication to a cause of death; heart attack or an issue affecting the heart may have contributed to her death but other issues like dry drowning (if any pool water was aspirated) or an underlying health issue (something possibly causing fever) may have been the cause. To get a concrete answer, you should submit Holly’s body to your Veterinarian for a necropsy. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 15, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Corona

dog-breed-icon

Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Pain

My dog is 50 pounds and 1 year old. She fell through the ice in the pool and struggled for at least 10 minutes before we were able to get her out. It has been around 30 degrees outside recently. Currently she seems lethargic, cries when we touch her chest, is very weak, and is limping lightly. She is also panting very heavily.

March 6, 2018

Corona's Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. Corona needs to be taken to see a veterinarian immediately. Extreme cold can cause changes in the body that may need treatment. If she inhaled any water, she needs medical attention. I hope that she is okay.

March 6, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Dreamer

dog-breed-icon

Walker coon hound

dog-age-icon

13 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Head Tilt
Head Shaking
Wobbly
Ataxic

Our elderly walker hound (who is hypothyroid) went out last night and could not be found until this afternoon. The nighttime temps were in the mid- to high teens (F). A kind person found her under his house this afternoon. She is very wobbly and her head stays bent down to the side (like she’s had a stroke). But she has eaten about 3/4 can wet food and drunk about a cup of water. Is there anything a vet would do that we aren’t already doing? An emergency vet visit would put us into debt.

Hypothermia Average Cost

From 247 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,200