Once Bitten: Tips For Treating Frost Bite

Baby It’s Cold Outside!

Angel showing how to “properly” layer clothes. Two bonnets, a neck gaiter, a body sweater, and a fleece-lined leather coat! Stylin’!! Need every bit of it these past three weeks.

Tips For Treating Frostbite

Last week we covered all the precautions to be taken when pets are outside in sub-freezing temperatures and how best to protect them. However frostbite of the tail tip, ear tip, foot, genitalia, and scrotum occur much more frequently than you would believe.

Frostbite occurs with prolonged exposure to frigid temperatures or submersion in ice water. Frostbite is easy to spot because the affected area will lose its healthy pink color and turn pale, grey, or blue. The area will be very cold to the touch and it can be difficult to feel pulses. Icicles may even have formed on the skin. Severe frostbite can cause the tissues to die and turn black in color.

If you suspect this might be happening to your pet, immediate action outlined below is essential to prevent tissue death.

    1. Warm a towel in the dryer and place it on the affected area. Or submerge the body part in tepid water to slowly return the tissues to normal temperature. In either case, you must only use mild warmth. The instinct would be to use hot air or hot water which will make the damage worse.

    2. Do not rub or squeeze the area, as this may also cause more trauma.

    3. Seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

    4. As the area warms back up, it will likely turn red, become swollen and irritated looking. The warming process can be extremely painful, so veterinary prescribed pain medications are often necessary.

If the skin and underlying tissues have been frozen too long, they may not be savable. If this happens, our veterinarians will work with you to decide on the best course of action. Usually some time must pass to be able to know the exact margin of the devitalized tissue that must be surgically removed.

As noted last week, prevention is the best course of action. Limit outside time in extreme cold (see the chart in last week’s newsletter), and protect exposed skin with boots, coats, and yes, even pink bonnets.

Our Winter Dental Cleaning and Polishing Special saving 10% is in full swing and appointment slots are filling fast.

Our pets are living 3-4 years longer than 25 years ago, so help your pet keep his teeth for the long haul — you’ll appreciate the pleasant breath and puppy/kitty licks and kisses!

Call Karen, Jann, or Michelle to reserve today – 412-798-8770

Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic is a state-of-the-art, full-service suburban veterinary facility serving the Pittsburgh Area since 1980.. We offer diagnostic, medical, surgical, and dental care to dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and pocket pets in the Pittsburgh area.

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