When the temperatures drop, it’s important to protect pets from the potentially harmful winter elements. Prolonged exposure to the cold, wind and snow can cause frostbite, which occurs when part of the body freezes. Sensitive areas unprotected by fur are the most susceptible to frostbite in pets. If your pet has been out in the cold for more than a few minutes, you should check for signs of frostbite, especially on the ears, nose, toes, scrotum, and tail. Frostbitten skin will be cold, have discoloration typically with a pale, grey or bluish-white appearance. There also may be blisters and swelling of the affected area.

If you suspect your pet has frostbite, get them into a dry, warm area right away, and wrap them in a warm blanket or towel. Warm up the frostbitten area with warm (not hot) water and warm compresses. Don’t use any direct heat, such as a hairdryer or heating pad. Then, visit your veterinarian to get your pet examined as soon as possible. You can help prevent frostbite by limiting your pet’s time spent outside when it’s cold and making sure they have access to a warm and dry shelter, out of the wind. You can also protect your dog from the winter elements and help keep them warm with sweaters and dog booties.