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Hypothermia in dogs is an extreme lowering of the body temperature and happens when pets are exposed to frigid temperature for too long or if their fur wet in cold, windy environment.

Prolonged exposure to cold will result in a drop temperature. Toy breeds, breeds with short coats, puppies, and very old dogs are most susceptible to hypothermia. Because a wet coat loses its insulating properties, hypothermia is a potential complication for all dogs who have been submerged in cold water. Hypothermia also occurs along with shock, after a long course of anesthesia, and in newborn puppies who get chilled because of inadequately heated whelping quarters. Prolonged cold exposure burns up stored energy and results in low blood sugar.

Symptoms of Hypothermia

  • Strong shivering and trembling
  • Acting sleepy or lethargic and weak
  • Fur and skin are cold to touch
  • Body temperature is below 98o Fahrenheit
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Pupils may be dilated (black inner circle of eye appears large)
  • Gums and inner eyelids are pale or blue
  • Trouble walking
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Stupor, unconsciousness or coma

Causes of hypothermia

The most obvious cause of hypothermia is of course, exposure to cold but it can affect dogs even at room temperature. Very young and very old dogs and any dog under anesthesia are at higher risk. It can also affect smaller breeds disproportionately because they experience a faster loss of body heat through their skin.

What to do

If you dogs body temperature is below 98o f (36.7oc) take her to the vet immediately. Otherwise you need to raise your dog’s body temperature by applying heat in the following ways:

  • Wrap your dog with warm blanket
  • Wrap a hot water bag or bottle in a towel and place it against your dog’s stomach
  • If your dog is conscious give her warm fluids to drink.

Be sure that your dog stays still and avoids excessive movements as these can contribute to loss of body heat. Take your dog’s temperature every 10 minutes. Once its above 100 f (37.8oc), remove the hot water bag or bottle. Visit the vet to check for any long term damage to heart or other organs.


Obviously, the best way to prevent hypothermia is to avoid extreme cold for extended periods. Take more frequent but shorter walk and consider getting portative booties and jackets for your dogs. Always remember, you need extra care for young and old pets.

Dr Sharad Singh Yadav is the Chairman of Advanced Pet Hospital & Research Centre which is open 24 hours throughout the year and located in Bishal Nagar, Kathmandu. He may be contacted on tel: 4422855 or email: aphktm@gmail.com