We rarely think, letting our four-legged friends go for a walk, how these or other weather conditions can affect their health. And there are reasons for this, since the coat in many cases reliably protects dogs. But if it is very cold outside, natural defense mechanisms may fail. This often results in frostbite on the paws of dogs.
As you know, there are pads on the inner surface of the latter. They are also subject to particularly low temperatures.
How does frostbite develop?
Under normal conditions, blood that constantly circulates through blood vessels is responsible for the correct temperature regime of the body of an animal or person. What happens when the ambient temperature drops to dangerously low values?
In this case, the body has only one task - to survive. For the sake of this, the blood vessels of the peripheral tissues are narrowed as much as possible, most of the blood (and heat) accumulates in the internal organs, which are of maximum value in terms of continued life.
Simply put, the skin of the paw pads at that moment remains without nutrition, and without "heating". If this condition lasts long enough, then the tissues begin to simply die.
The clinical picture of frostbite
In the most severe cases, it comes to complete freezing of the tissues of the limbs of the affected area. As a rule, there is no chance of their normal recovery, the dog risks losing not only the pillows themselves, but also the toes. What signs of frostbite in dogs should you pay attention to? Typical clinical presentation includes following symptoms:
- Affected parts of the body can be covered with ice, have a slightly bluish tint.
- The animal is trembling.
- The gait often changes in the animal; it hesitantly sets frostbitten paws.
- After you brought the dog into heat, it does not allow it to touch the affected tissues, as a strong pain reaction develops.
- Paw pads swell significantly.
- Bubbles appear (as with a thermal burn).
- If frostbite was serious, the tissues begin to die, signs of necrosis are clearly visible.
Skin discoloration is the most obvious and easiest to detect sign of frostbite in dogs.. The skin becomes pale, it takes on a bluish or grayish appearance. This is due to the practical lack of blood in the blood vessels (as we mentioned above). When blood supply is restored, the affected area immediately turns red, swells, flakes, becomes very painful. These are very indicative symptoms.
If the cold has been affecting the dog's paws for too long, the tissues and cells can no longer recover, they die. The area becomes dark blue, and then blackens completely. Complete dying off, depending on the duration of the negative factor and the degree of frostbite, can take from a couple of days to a week. The longer the clinical picture develops, the harder the general course of the disease. As a rule, frostbite in this case is greatly complicated by a secondary bacterial infection, a sign of which is the appearance of pus and other signs of serious inflammation.
Many dogs in this period are in a state of chronic shock from a constant pain reaction. Highly it is important, upon detection of the slightest signs of frostbite, to begin to render the animal first aid. The faster you do this, the higher the chances of a successful outcome.
What if your dog has frostbite paws?
The most important thing is to immediately deliver the dog to a warm, dry room. Pulling with this is strongly discouraged.
If it comes to severe hypothermia (hypothermia), slightly warmed, dry towels can be wrapped around the affected area. In no case do not use heating pads, as well as capes with electric heating, as they can provoke the development of a burn. The fact is that frostbitten tissues become excessively sensitive to heat, as a result of which even safe temperatures under normal conditions become dangerous.
After wrapping, you can wash frost-bitten fabrics with clean water, the temperature of which does not exceed 40 degrees Celsius. In no case, never rub the frostbitten skin! It can only be gently wiped with a soft towel or patted, because otherwise you will only provoke a sharp deterioration in the process of necrosis. What else to do?
To speed up the healing process, follow the instructions below:
- It is necessary to eliminate the hypothermia of the canine organism as soon as possible.
- Never use water at temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius to wash affected areas.
- Use only dry, soft towels to wrap the dog’s frost-bitten paws.
- Monitor your dog’s body temperature every few minutes to stabilize it.
- As soon as your pet's body temperature returns to normal, stop warming it and take it to a veterinary clinic immediately.
It is strictly forbidden to carry out the following manipulations:
- Never use hot, scalding water., since such an approach will only lead to a deterioration of the necrotic process.
- Never use water or electric heating pads. to warm affected limbs.
- It is forbidden to use a hair dryer to warm frostbitten paws.
- Do not rub affected feet with a towel, only lightly, gently wipe with a warm, soft cloth.
- Do not try to "heat up" the affected area, as a result of such heating, dead tissue can begin to come off with pieces of paws.
- Do not put the dog in a bath with water, because of this, the pet’s body temperature will drop.
- Never give a dog any medicine, painkillers, other drugs, as many products originally intended for humans are toxic to animals.
- Do not try to grease your dog with frostbite feet with goose or other fat! So your pet will freeze itself limbs for sure!
What does treatment suggest? Your veterinarian will eliminate shock, hypothermia, mechanical damage to affected limbs. It is mandatory to conduct blood and urine tests, since by their results it will be possible to judge the condition of the internal organs of the animal. In addition, in severe cases, X-ray and ultrasound are recommended.
Usually, powerful painkillers required, since in the process of necrosis and inflammatory reaction the dog will experience severe pain. Antibiotics are also prescribed in most cases to avoid secondary (second) bacterial infections.
After the animal’s condition is more or less stabilized, surgery may be required. It is done so that the tissue that has undergone necrosis does not begin to rot, poisoning the body of the dog with decay products. Emollient ointments and other agents that improve and accelerate the healing process are also used. Be sure to discuss with your veterinarian how and what should be used, what is the brevity of the use of a drug.
As a rule, frostbite of the paw pads in dogs (with proper and timely treatment) is fairly quick, without leaving any serious consequences.