What to do if your dog has hypothermia


The number 9 post of all time was DOGS AND COLD WEATHER: Winter Safety Series – HYPOTHERMIA. We revisit the topic below.

Hypothermia is when an animal’s core body temperature falls below normal temperature for that particular species. Dogs and cats can experience hypothermia. Hypothermia is a serious condition that will require immediate first aid treatment and may require veterinary care.


Young puppies and senior dogs are at the highest risk of hypothermia from winter weather so be sure to bring them in during the colder months. If that’s not possible, bring them into the garage with a kennel (Berkowitz, 2011) and a soft, warm dry blanket (Gillham, 2011) to lie upon.

If either option is not possible, provide your dogs with outdoor shelter like a doghouse or igloo large enough for the dog to stand up and turn around. Being able to move around will help your dog to keep warm. The shelter should also keep your dog protected from wind and snow.

You might also use dog sweaters to keep your pets warm during the winter months (Berkowitz, 2011).

The key to remember is to minimize the amount of time you let your companion animals stay outside during the colder months. This means letting them out to do their business and taking them for short walks instead of longer walks.


According to VeterinaryPartner.com, your pet may have hypothermia if you observe the following symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shock
  • Organ failure

Shock and organ failure will be difficult for you to observe at home. That’s why it’s important to consult a veterinarian if you suspect your dog has low body temperature.

First Aid

When you encounter a dog with hypothermia, the first thing you should do is bring it in from the cold. Next, wrap the dog in warm blankets and use warm water bottles to help raise the dog’s body temperature. Then, seek veterinary attention immediately.

First Aid Steps

  1. Bring the animal inside.
  2. Wrap the animal in warm blankets and use warm water bottles to add heat.
  3. Seek veterinary care.


Berkowitz, L. (2011, January 10). When cold weather hits, don’t forget your pets. Houston Chronicle .

Gillham, O. (2011, February 4). Extra steps urged to keep pets safe in cold weather. Tulsa World .

Veterinary Information Network. (n.d.). Hypothermia. Retrieved December 4, 2012, from VeterinaryPartner.com: http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&A=367


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