Frostbite in Pets is a Serious Winter Concern


During the winter, wherever temperatures drop below freezing (32°F / 0°C), a pet’s prolonged exposure to freezing temps reduces blood flow to critically low levels in certain areas of the body, especially the extremities such as the feet, ears and tail. (Ear tips are especially vulnerable.)

If these tissues literally freeze, severe injury or permanent damage can occur.

If you suspect that your dog or cat may have frostbite…

Call your vet clinic or emergency hospital immediately for instructions!

Before taking your dog or cat to the clinic (or on the way), begin these interim first aid treatments.

  • Move your pet to a warm and dry indoor spot as quickly and as safely as possible (including a warm car). Wrap your pet in warm dry towels or blankets and place wrapped hot water bottles near the body.
  • In addition, you can try carefully warming the affected area with warm (NOT HOT) water. Test the water temperature to make sure it doesn’t exceed 104 to 108°F (40 to 42°C). You should be able to comfortably place your hand in the warm water. Either apply warm water with towels or soak the affected area in a bowl of water.
  • Pat the area dry carefully and thoroughly after you feel that it’s warm.
  • If you’re leaving the house with your pet to drive to the vet’s, keep it warm with dry towels or blankets that have been warmed in the clothes dryer.

NEVER, EVER DO THESE THINGS – They could make the problem worse!

  • DO NOT rub or massage the affected area!
  • DO NOT apply hot water to the affected area!
  • DO NOT warm a frostbitten pet if you’re outdoors and you can’t keep the area warm.
  • DO NOT use direct dry heat such as a heating pad or hair dryer!
  • DO NOT give any pain medication unless your veterinarian recommends one. Many human pain relievers can be poisonous to pets.

You can avoid frostbite in your pet by keeping him or her indoors as much as possible when it’s below freezing outside. Remember, a doghouse, shed or garage can get just as cold as the outside temperatures, so please limit your pet’s exposure to these areas as well when it’s below freezing.

Caution: These news items, written by LifeLearn Inc., are licensed to this practice for the personal use of our clients. Any copying, printing or further distribution is prohibited without the express written permission of LifeLearn Inc. Please note that the news information presented here is NOT a substitute for a proper consultation and/or clinical examination of your pet by our clinic veterinarian.