Frostbite refers to freezing of the skin and tissues under the skin. The fluids in the body tissues and cellular spaces freeze and crystallize. This may lead to damage of the blood vessels and results in blood clotting and lack of oxygen to the affected area. Frostbite can be a serious condition that can lead to death or amputation. If you suspect your pet has frostbite, it should be evaluated by a veterinarian.
Several factors contribute to frostbite including the length of time the animal is exposed, the temperature outside, the force of the wind, the humidity in the air, the dampness of the bedding, and altitudes. Prolonged exposure to moderate cold or brief exposure to extreme cold can result in tissue damage. Therefore, it is possible for frostbite to occur in animals with just a few minutes of exposure to extreme weather conditions.
Treating frostbite is much more difficult than preventing it. To prevent frostbite:
Don't leave your indoor pets outdoors for too long.
Outdoor pets must be provided with a shelter that is insulated and/or heated.
Their outdoor home should be elevated off the ground to prevent moisture from accumulating on their bedding. A door should protect them from wind, sleet, and snow.
Fresh water sources should be available at all times. Heated water units that prevent water from freezing are available.
Outdoor pets require extra calories to keep warm. If the temperature drops, it is likely your pet will require more food to keep warm. In severely cold or inclement weather, no pet should be kept outside.
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