How to Give First Aid to Your Dog

How to Treat a Dog That Has Frostbite

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Step 2

When a dog is exposed to freezing temperatures for a long period of time, there is always the possibility of frostbite. The signs of frostbite include pain, pale skin in early stages, and red or black skin in advanced stages.

The areas most likely to be frostbitten are those that have little or no hair and the ears and tail tip, which have a limited blood supply. Occasionally, if damage from frostbite is severe, part of the tail or ear tips may actually fall off. Professional attention should be sought before this happens. To provide proper care to a dog suffering from frostbite, use the following tips.


Step 1: Restrain the dog if necessary.

Step 1a: Approach the dog slowly, speaking in a reassuring tone of voice.

Step 1b: Slip a leash around the dog's neck, then place the leash around a fixed object. Pull the dog against this object and tie the leash so the dog cannot move its head.

Step 1c: Muzzle the dog to protect yourself, if necessary.

Step 2: Warm the area with moist towels. The water temperature should be warm but not hot (75 degrees Fahrenheit/24 degrees Celsius). DO NOT use ointment.

Step 3: If the skin turns dark, transport the dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible.

Just as exposure to extreme cold can be harmful to your pet, so, too, can extreme heat. Check the next section to learn how to treat a dog that has heatstroke.