4. Keep an Eye Out For Frostbite
20 minute walks outside are unlikely to result in a problem, but if you take your dog skijoring (skiing behind your dog) or running for prolonged hours at a time, ice crystals an develop in peripheral tissues (like the ears, prepuce, vulva, tail tip and toes). Keep a careful eye out for the following signs:
- Coolness to touch
- Eventual sloughing of the tissue
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 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.