Can Dogs Get Frostbite?

Chilly winter temperatures in Carroll Gardens can make dogs vulnerable to the weather outside. 

Carroll Gardens can be an absolute winter wonderland looking out from a window, but being outside in the snow and frigid temperatures is a different story! After all, taking a stroll from brownstone to brownstone may be doable for you when you’re all bundled up, but keep in mind, dogs don’t always have the winter protection.

The Vet Set is well-accustomed to the winter weather in Carroll Gardens, so it’s important to do a post relating to how it may impact your pooch! Learn more about frostbite in today’s post.

When the temperatures dip and your dog is exposed to freezing temperatures, they’re susceptible to frostbite. So, if you’ve just moved from a moderate climate to winter in Carroll Gardens, it’s important to know how the winter weather can affect the health of your dog.  

It’s important to address that dogs can get frostbite just like humans. When freezing temperatures occur and your dog is exposed, there can be a rapid drop in their body temperature. 

In addition, all the blood begins to be redirected to protect their vital organs, leaving their outermost extremities exposed and more vulnerable to the cold. This is why the areas furthest away from the heart — ears, tail, nose, and paws — are the regions where frostbite most commonly occurs.   

While there are some dog breeds that favor well and were bred for colder climates — Siberian husky, Alaskan malamute, etc — it’s imperative that no dog is left out in the cold for an extended period. 

A good measure to follow is that if you don’t want to be outside, your dog probably doesn’t want to be there either! To better protect your dogs for walks and outings outdoors, consider dog jackets, sweaters, and booties if they’ll tolerate them. 

It’s also important to consider the size and type of breed that you have — larger and thicker-coated dogs will fare much better than smaller short-hair breeds (think saint bernard compared to a whippet). 


6 Signs Your Dog is Getting Cold

Before your dog succumbs to frostbite they will show a variety of signs including:

  • Shivering or shaking
  • Hunched with a tucked tail
  • Barking or whining
  • Increased anxiousness 
  • Looking uncomfortable
  • Lifts paws off the ground


Treating Frostbite in Dogs

If your dog shows any signs of frostbite, it’s crucial to seek care from your local vet. The following frostbite first aid includes:

  • Take your dog indoors to a safe, warm environment
  • Assess for hypothermia, and if they present symptoms, begin to wrap them in warm, dry blankets, while avoiding rubbing the affected areas.
  • If you are outdoors and cannot get indoors immediately and if you’re unable to keep the area warm, it can further damage the tissue by freezing and unfreezing. 
  • Do not use dry heat such as a heating pad, portable heater, or hairdryer.
  • During transit to the vet, keep your dog warm and dry by bundling them in blankets and keeping them covered.  

Once your dog is admitted to the vet, the vet will begin to treat hypothermia and the thawing of the tissue. This can be extremely painful for your dog, so a sedative and/or pain medication will be administered. Antibiotics may also be given to prevent any infections if tissue death occurs.  

In mild cases of frostbite, there is little long-term damage, while severe cases can lead to disfiguration and even amputation. 

Frostbite is a serious concern for dogs in cold climates, especially if they’re outdoors for an extended amount of time. It’s important to not only know the signs of frostbite but how to properly perform first-aid before you see the vet. 

For more information on how we treat frostbite in dogs, call or email our Carroll Gardens vet clinic today! 




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