When the weather gets cold outside, it’s the time for warmer clothes and gear for you, your family and in some cases, your dog as well. Dog sweaters and jackets are great for quick walks and if you are planning to spend longer time outdoors, boots or shoes can protect your little friend’s feet. However, prolonged outdoor activities at below-freezing temperatures can increase the risk of frostbite in dogs. Today, we’ll see how frostbite appears in dogs and what you can do to help prevent it.So, what is frostbite in dogs?It is a type of skin infection or trauma that occurs when your dog has been exposed to below-freezing temperatures for a long period of time. The smaller blood vessels in your dog’s extremities constrict in order to keep the blood flow to the core of the body and by doing this, the warmth within your dog’s body is less likely to disperse.If the restriction in blood flow is prolonged, tissue damage might occur. The ears, nose, tail and paws are all parts that make up your dog’s extremities. The penis and testicles in male dogs may also be at risk. Dogs with health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, senior dogs, very young pups and dogs with short or wet fur are more susceptible to frostbite. What are the Symptoms of frostbite in dogs One of the most obvious signs of frostbite is that the skin feels very cold to the touch or can appear discolored like a blue or a black color and the area around the ears and tail tip tends to feel brittle or dry. When the blood starts flowing to frostbitten areas, the skin may appear very red and inflamed. In extreme cases, blisters and necrotic skin can develop and the skin can be painful when touched.If not treated, frostbitten areas can continue to cause pain for your pup. Frostbite is diagnosed when signs are consistent with a recorded history of prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures. Frostbite treatment for DogsThe foremost step shall be to contact your veterinarian right away so that they can examine the skin and determine the treatment such as therapies, antibiotics and pain medications. Sometimes, blood work is also performed to check for signs of internal organ damage. Do’sWhen taking your dog to the vet’s clinic, you should wrap him in a warm blanket or towel to bring his body temperature down. Here’s a tip : first put the towel in your dryer for a few minutes to warm them up and then wrap it around your dog. If your dog is wet, gently towel-dry him but avoid rubbing the skin as it will become red and painful. Warm water bottles are also effective.Don'tsAvoid using electric blankets and heating pads as these can become too hot and end up burning the already traumatized skin. Blow dryers can also get too hot and shall be avoided.In minor frostbite cases, topical ointments can help and more generalized frostbite may require hospital care, warming devices, antibiotics and pain medications. For severe cases with frostbite and necrotic skin, surgical removal of the affected area’s tissue is necessary. PrecautionsAvoid staying outdoors for more than 20-30 minutes unless your dog is used to these kinds of freezing temperatures. If you keep your dog outdoors, make sure to provide a sufficiently warm shelter or keep him indoors when the temperature drops below.Frostbite is a medical condition that is painful and can be cured with early medication and prevention. Make sure to pay attention to the outdoor temperature, if your pup is going to stay outside for more than thirty minutes. If you suspect that your dog has frostbite, try to warm him up and take him to the veterinarian right away.