Trudy, an Itchmo reader, wrote this piece about pets and frost bite:
Pets are very vulnerable during this cold snap. They suffer in the bitter cold temperatures just like people can.
Pets will often get frost bite on their ears, paws, toes, or tails.
Ice crystals can form in the tissue of the pet’s body and damage the body tissue. This tissue damage may not be apparent for several days.
Frost bite occurs when the body gets very cold and the pet’s body system pulls all the blood from the extremities of the body to the center of the body to stay warm. This is a natural defense, as it draws the warm blood away from the organs and limbs that are not vital for survival.
I have personally seen this in kittens. Two years ago, I rescued a mother cat and her six kittens (one of the kittens is pictured here) that were born outside. The mother cat had tried to dig a hole in the frozen ground as close to the house as she could. The woman who owned the house had put a box out with towels in it, but the mother cat wanted them next to the house. Apparently she had the kittens in the tiny scooped out frozen ground.
After having the kittens, she decided to take them to the box. But for some, it was too late.
I went right over as soon as I got the call and brought them all home. I thought that some of the kittens’ tails looked strange, but I had never seen frost bite before. This was a litter of black and white kittens. Their tails looked like they were turning a funny whitish color and kind of wizzeled up.
After having them home for a few days, and keeping them warm, dry, and fed, I noticed the tails were looking shrunken and a white-grayish color. Then their ears started turning colors and then some of their toes.
After a few more days, their tails started to look shrunken, and then parts of those started falling off. Then parts of their ears and parts of their toes started falling off.
These were the extremities that had gotten the coldest, and had endured through the frost bite.
The mother (pictured here) and kittens are all healthy and doing great now.
Please keep your pets inside and only allow your dogs out for short periods of time during the cold temperatures.
If you suspect frost bite or hypothermia, get them to the vets as soon as possible. Do not put the animal in hot water, but instead put the pet in a warm blanket or towel and seek help.