Temperatures are dropping in the Grand Valley
After enjoying a mild and beautiful fall in the grand valley temperatures are starting to drop. We've talked about the dangers of heat stroke during our hot dry summer months and now want to take a moment to address the polar opposite concern of hypothermia risks in winter months.
Hypothermia occurs when an animal’s body is no longer able to maintain normal temperature, causing a depression of the central nervous system. It may also affect heart rate, blood flow, breathing, and the immune system.
Depending on the degree of hypothermia, varying symptoms are observed. An animal may appear weak, shivering, and lacking in mental alertness when body temperature starts to fall. In more severe cases, an animal will experience muscle stiffness, low blood pressure, mental stupor, and slow, shallow breathing. If the body temperature remains low for an extended period of time, symptoms such as fixed and dilated pupils, inaudible heartbeat, difficulty breathing, and coma occur. These indicate the need for emergency medical care and intervention.
Some breeds and animals are at a higher risk for developing hypothermia. Very young animals and smaller dogs tend to lose heat from their body surface more rapidly. Skinny animals, those with fine, thin or short hair coats, and geriatric animals have a more difficult time keeping warm in cold temperatures. Certain medical disorders or diseases play a role in the body's ability to regulate body temperature. Dogs who are not producing sufficient thyroid hormone may experience difficulty and can be tested for hypothyroid disease through a blood test, then given oral supplements to combat symptoms.
Please remember to provide shelter with dry protective bedding for your pet this winter when they are outdoors. Those cute little doggie coats and sweaters can serve as protective aids for house pets going out in cold temperatures. Water heaters will also help make sure your pet stays well hydrated with accessible drinking water when the ice and snow comes. With these precautions in mind, we are ready for a little cold and hopefully snow!
Happy New Year!