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20 min walks outside are not likely to result in a problem, but if you take your dog outside for long time when it’s less than 20 degrees Fahrenheit or with a significant wind chill, ice crystals can develop in outer tissues (like the ears, prepuce, vulva, tail tip, and toes).

If you do notice any signs of frost-nip (the stage immediately before frostbite) or frostbite, make sure to bring your pet into a sheltered, warm area immediately. Most importantly, avoid touching or actively heating the area aggressively; rather, slow re-warming of the tissue with lukewarm water is best. This will prevent further injury with rapid thawing of the ice crystals in the tissue. Do not rewarm the area until it can be kept warm. Warming and then re-exposing the frostbitten area to cold air can cause worse damage. If no water is nearby, breathe on the area through cupped hands and hold it next to your body. Seek immediate attention from your veterinarian to make sure pain medication, salves, or antibiotics aren’t necessary. Keep in mind that once tissue has undergone frostbite, that tissue is more susceptible in the future.

Where is a dog more likely to get frostbite?

The paws, ears, and tail are the most common areas to be affected. If a dog is wet or damp, these areas are more likely to frostbite.

What are the medical signs of frostbite?

The medical signs linked with frostbite include:

discoloration of the affected area of skin – this discoloration is often pale, gray or bluish.

coldness and/or brittleness of the area when touched.

pain when you touch the body

swelling of the affected area(s).

blisters or skin ulcers.

areas of blackened or dead skin.

As frostbitten tissues thaw, they may become red and very painful due to inflammation.

How is frostbite treated?

If you suspect your dog has frostbite, you should seek medical attention immediately.