Low Body Temperature in Dogs

Low Body Temperature in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Anemia / Depression / Lethargy / Weakness

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Rated as moderate conditon

17 Veterinary Answers

Most common symptoms

Anemia / Depression / Lethargy / Weakness

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Low Body Temperature in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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What is Low Body Temperature?

Hypothermia is a progressive condition. As low body temperature continues, the body's ability to bring itself back to normal temperatures diminishes. Depression of the circulatory, central nervous, respiratory and the immune systems are seen with hypothermia. Untreated, low body temperature can lead to difficulty breathing, an irregular heartbeat, and unconsciousness. Hypothermia is the term for an abnormally low body temperature. At below normal temperature levels, the body’s physiologic and metabolic functions are depressed. An irregular heartbeat, trouble breathing, and impaired consciousness to the point of coma may result.

Symptoms of Low Body Temperature in Dogs

Initial symptoms, seen in cases of mild hypothermia include:

  • Heat-seeking/burrowing in blankets
  • Shivering
  • Weakness
  • Mental depression

As hypothermia progresses to a moderate level, symptoms include:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Stiff movement
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Lethargy

Severe hypothermia is exhibited by the following symptoms:

  • Labored breathing
  • Slow, weak heartbeat
  • Fixed and dilated pupils
  • Unconsciousness or coma

Types

Hypothermia may be classified by cause:

  • Primary hypothermia: The body exhibits normal heat production. Low body temperature results from exposure to low environmental temperatures.
  • Secondary hypothermia: The body exhibits abnormal heat production as a result of injury, illness, or drugs.

Hypothermia severity may be classified by body temperature:

  • Mild: Body temperature of 90 - 99°F (32 - 35°C)
  • Moderate: Body temperature of 82 - 90°F (28 - 32°C)
  • Severe: Body temperature less than 82°F (28°C)

Causes of Low Body Temperature in Dogs

  • Exposure to external cold, wet and/or extreme drafts can result in heat loss.
  • Smaller animals have high surface-area-to-body-mass ratios and are more susceptible.
  • Injury can prevent seeking heat and/or thermoregulation
  • Certain drugs such as those used for anesthesia in surgery can inhibit the body’s ability to regulate temperature.
  • Newborn pups are more susceptible to hypothermia even at normal room temperatures.
  • Geriatric pets can be more susceptible to hypothermia.
  • Hypothalamic disease affects the brain’s regulation of body temperature and can contribute to heat loss.
  • Hypothyroidism, low thyroid hormone production, can contribute to heat loss.

Diagnosis of Low Body Temperature in Dogs

The best chance of recovery from hypothermia comes with early diagnosis and treatment. If your pet is exhibiting symptoms of hypothermia such as heat-seeking, weakness, lethargy, or others mentioned above, carefully and gently wrap the pet in blankets and transport them to the veterinarian.

At the veterinarian, a mercury or digital rectal or auricular thermometer will be used to measure the pet’s body temperature. A thorough history will often be obtained to aid in determining the possible causes of the observed symptoms. A physical examination for heartbeat irregularities or abnormal breathing can establish whether the hypothermia is mild, moderate or severe.

Blood tests may be performed to determine possible alternative contributors to the hypothermia such as the presence of drugs, hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, or other physical disorders. Analysis of the urine can also reveal possible reasons for abnormal thermoregulation. The veterinarian may choose to monitor the pet’s heart rhythms with an electrocardiogram (EKG).

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Treatment of Low Body Temperature in Dogs

Therapeutic goals are directed toward rewarming the patient and preventing additional body heat loss. The body can be safely rewarmed at 0.5-1.5 degrees Celsius per hour. Three rewarming techniques are available and used according to the degree of hypothermia severity.

  • Passive External Rewarming
    • In mild hypothermia, the animal’s own metabolism continues to produce heat. Blankets or other insulating covers will aid in preventing further heat loss. Natural body functions such as shivering will also contribute to rewarming.
  • Active External Rewarming
    • Moderate cases of hypothermia require the use of external heat sources such as hot water bottles, heating pads and radiant heaters.
  • Active Internal Rewarming
    • Severe cases of hypothermia require the use of invasive warming. Administration of warm intravenous (IV) fluids can aid in bringing body temperatures back to normal levels. Oxygen administration may also be used to promote recovery.
  • Treatment risks:
    • Rewarming must be conducted carefully and body temperature monitored constantly to avoid complications.
    • After drop is a phenomenon seen as the body temperature continues to decrease during rewarming. Rewarmed blood moves to the extremities, pushing cold blood from the extremities inward to core organs.
    • Rewarming shock can result from rapid rewarming causing a sudden drop in blood pressure. Combined with low cardiac output, this can potentially further compromise the circulatory system.
Treatment duration:

</br> Rewarming therapy should continue until normal body temperature is reached (usually 2-10 hours, depending on severity). The patient may then continue to be monitored for 24-72 hours, depending on severity.

Recovery of Low Body Temperature in Dogs

Recovery from hypothermia can be complete if the condition is diagnosed early and treated. Follow up appointments at and/or two weeks following treatment may be suggested to monitor the patient for any long-term complications.

In moderate to severe cases, long-term damage can occur to organs that were not supplied with sufficient circulation while at low body temperature. The extent of long-term damage may not be detectable for days or weeks post-treatment. The veterinarian may suggest various follow up appointments to monitor physiologic processes post-treatment for hypothermia.

Patients who are at high risk for hypothermia may require long-term care, such as incubation, to keep the body temperature stable.

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Low Body Temperature Average Cost

From 1682 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$750

Low Body Temperature Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Ralph

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Dachshund

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11 Years

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Serious condition

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0 found helpful

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

Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Fainting
Murmur
Chf
Mild Hypothermia
Low Heart Output
Low Cardiac Output

I have an 11 year old male Doxie who had a syncope incident before eating and then refused to eat we took him to the vet ER where he was seen. He has stage 6 murmur and she felt at first it was his heart but then he started vomiting regularly so they went to feeding him small amounts and felt maybe it was vagal nerve related. I know he’s in end stage CHF like his 14 year old mother but he’s very different. After he passed out he’s having a hard time regulating his temperature he’s now constantly hypothermic (95.3-98) his mother though is also and is chf- his father 15 is also a hypothermic dog but only had epilepsy. The other issue he seems to be having is his personality up and went with the episode. He’s not loving cuddly wagging his tail happy nothing.... why would those two be the only issues? his pulse and resp rate regular, his heart rhythm regular.... everything is ok blood all came back normal but 1 liver enzyme that’s max was 122 his was 424?

July 20, 2018

Ralph's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

I would suspect with that severity of a heart murmur, Ralph isn't perfusing to his tissues very well, and that is probably why he is cold. If he is not as affectionate as usual, he may not feel good, and hopefully will return to his normal self once his medications start working.

July 21, 2018

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Lily

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Australian Shepherd

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5 Years

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Fair condition

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1 found helpful

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Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Panting
Pregnant
No Nesting

My girl, Lily, is pregnant and around 64 days gestation. She is panting but is not showing any other signs of labor. Her rectal temperature has remained low, with the lowest at around 97 and highest at 99.9. I know that a low temp is a sign of birth approaching but it has been 2 weeks now. She is still eating, playing, and acting normal. Is it common for dogs to keep a low temp during pregnancy? Also, can her pregnancy last much longer than the standard 63 days and at what point should I be more concerned? This is her first litter.

June 10, 2018

Lily's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Typically body temperature will drop within a day or so of whelping; pregnancy in dogs may last a few days longer than the normal 63 days and you should visit your Veterinarian if pregnancy goes over 67 or 68 days especially if you’re sure of the dates. You should keep a close eye on her, but it may be an idea to pop into your Veterinarian for an examination on Monday morning to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 10, 2018

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Twinkle

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chug

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13 Years

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Fair condition

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0 found helpful

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

Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Cold To Touch

My dog is part pug breathes loudly to begin with because of that, but today she was sitting on the floor by my feet and she was making really strange and loud shallow breathing sounds. It persisted for at least ten mineuts (that ​I noticed) so I picked her up and she was cold. I felt around her body to see if she was just cold in one spot from the ceiling fan blowing on her or from the brick floor but her whole body was very cold. Her nose was also dry which isn't too uncommon for her but I'm not sure if these things are related or not.

May 16, 2018

Twinkle's Owner


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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Surface body temperature may be low especially if being cooled by a fan, it is the core body temperature which we are more concerned about; without examining Twinkle I cannot say whether you need to be concerned or not, turn off the fan and monitor her for a bit to see her behaviour or look out for any other symptoms. Most likely she felt cold to the touch due to being under the fan, but I cannot give you a 100% assurance without examining her. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 17, 2018

My dog in the morning we were still sleeping and he kept moving from on place to another around the bed so many times and kept shaking a lot please help

May 21, 2018

Vanessa G.

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khloe

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Teacup yorkipoo

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11 Years

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Mild condition

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0 found helpful

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

Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Hypothermia

My teacup yorkipoo just had her uterus removed. Her temp has been low according to the vet. But she is now 2 days post op and is now home. She would not eat or move while she was there but felt she would do those things at home. So with her being home now she has been eating, walking around but her temp has not gotten over 99.5. I have her with warm blanket and a heating pad wrapped in a blanket as well. She moves out from the blankets and pants with her tongue out of her mouth like she does on a hot summer day. I’m just curious is maybe she typically runs low to begin with possibly? The vet did not take a baseline temp before he surgery so we are not sure what the temp was prior to. Can someone possibly give me some insight on this. She will be 11 years old in 2 week. Weights 6lbs. Thank you.

April 25, 2018

khloe's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Khloe’s temperature is low and would be considered mild hypothermia, whilst Khloe may be considered to be mildly hypothermic if there are no other symptoms to indicate it you should keep a very close eye on her. It is strange that your Veterinarian didn’t take a temperature reading on admission to the clinic before the surgery. I don’t know what to suggest really. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 25, 2018

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Tiffany

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Yorkshire Terrier

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6 Weeks

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Serious condition

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0 found helpful

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

Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Vomiting
Weak Pulse
Faint Heart Rate
Weak Pluse
No Appitite

hi my 6week yorkie was vomiting and was having diarrhea and wasn’t eating and didn’t have as much energy as she used to . we took her to the vet and they said it was hypothermia. This morning she was foaming at the mouth . she is so so weak and keeps on vomiting . will she die ?

April 5, 2018

Tiffany's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

You should return Tiffany to your Veterinarian for an examination and possibly supportive and symptomatic care; without examining her I cannot give you a prognosis or a specific cause. Tiffany may require incubation, fluids and other treatment to help her through this time. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 5, 2018

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Licki

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Dachshund

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10 Years

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Serious condition

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2 found helpful

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

Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Weak And Cold

My Sausage dog, Licki, is 10 years old. She ate was full of life and normal two hours ago when I fed her and she ate fine. Suddenly she is too weak to walk, she is breathing oldy and I'm struggling to keep her warm. Her body is cold, including her gums which should be warm. I'm in a flat spin, please help my baby

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Freckles

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Basset Hound

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5 Years

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Moderate condition

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Cold Weak Breathes Funny

My 5 yr old Bassett has been weak drinking water but not eat nose is very cold kind of pale gums and breathing funny she drinks water but throws up if drinks to much I am worried I have her in s blanket now temp was 99.1 love her we are on a fixed income don’t have a lot of money I hope she is not dying please give me advice

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Dulce

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Maltese

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10 Years

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Moderate condition

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-1 found helpful

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

Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Shivering
Body Temperature Hot

Hi my dog is shivering and eyes seem a little sad. She drinks and eats fine. She also plays with her teddy bears without a probltemp.Took temp from rectum 97.4.

Low Body Temperature Average Cost

From 1682 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$750

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