As temperatures continue to drop outside, it’s important to remember that your dog or cat can suffer from freezing temperatures, ice and snow, or viral and bacterial conditions that often accompany the cold season.


Leaving your dog or cat outside in the cold for long periods can cause serious illness, as well as injury. Below is a list of common winter illnesses and the symptoms of each. If you suspect that your dog or cat is sick or injured from the cold outside, bring them to Normandale Veterinary Hospital immediately for proper treatment.


Hypothermia causes the body temperature levels to get low when a dog spends too much time in a cold environment, or when a dog or cat with poor health gets exposed to cold temperatures. Dogs with diabetes and heart ailments are subject to hypothermia in cold conditions.


Symptoms of hypothermia include:


●        Shivering

●        Weakness

●        Lethargy

●        Restlessness

●        Depression


Severe hypothermia can produce stiff muscles, a slow heart rate, and a failure to respond to stimuli. To check if your dog has hypothermia, take its temperature using a rectal thermometer; any reading that's below 95 degrees Fahrenheit (ca. 35 °C) may signify that the dog or cat has hypothermia. If so, wrap the dog in a warm blanket and bring it to our vet clinic right away for proper treatment.


Frostbite occurs when a dog's body gets too cold and draws blood from the extremities to the center of their body to maintain safe body temperature. The animal's paws, tail, and ears can get cold enough to form ice crystals in the tissues. The formulation of these crystals can lead to tissue damage.


Symptoms of hypothermia include:


●        Shivering

●        Slow, shallow breathing

●        Weak pulse

●        Clumsiness or lack of coordination

●        Drowsiness or lethargy

●        Loss of consciousness


If you suspect that your pet has frostbite, take it to a warm environment and apply warm water to all the affected areas to melt away the ice crystals, and restore blood circulation. Do not massage the frostbitten areas, because this can cause a lot of pain. When the dog warms up, you can wrap it in warm blankets and bring it to our clinic for diagnosis and treatment.


Sniffles is a sign of a minor upper respiratory infection.


Symptoms of sniffles include:


●        Runny nose

●        Slight cough

●        Watery eyes

●        Lethargy

●        Fatigue

●        Sneezing


Treatment for sniffles may include allowing your dog to get plenty of rest, wrapping it in a warm blanket, and giving it plenty of water to drink. You can feed your dog boneless chicken noodle soup which may help with any congestion. You can also place a humidifier in the dog’s room to reduce the cough. If the symptoms do not improve within a couple of days, schedule an appointment with a Normandale Veterinarian. They may recommend an antibiotic.

Flu and Pneumonia

Flu and pneumonia typically affect elderly dogs and young puppies. Any dog that has spent a lot of time in the rain or snow can catch the flu or suffer from pneumonia as well.


Symptoms of the flu or pneumonia include:


●        Dry or moist cough

●        Runny nose

●        Sneezing

●        Blood coughs

●        Fever

●        Runny eyes

●        Ear infection

●        Anorexia


If you discover that your pet is suffering from these symptoms, you should cover it with a warm blanket and take it to the vet for treatment.

Kennel Cough

A.K.A., canine infectious tracheobronchitis, Kennel cough occurs due to viral bacteria. Thus, it can be contagious. You should keep your pet isolated if it suffers from kennel cough.


Symptoms of kennel cough include:


●        Dry cough

●        Eye discharge

●        Runny nose

●        Fever

●        Loss of appetite

●        Sneezing


Typically, mild cases of kennel cough are treated with a week or two of rest, but a veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to prevent a secondary infection and cough medication to ease the symptoms.

Keep Your Pet Healthy This Winter: Schedule an Appointment With a Vet


Don’t let winter keep your pet from being healthy and warm. If you think that your pet may be suffering from a winter illness, then bring it to Normandale Veterinary Hospital. We diagnose your pet’s condition and provide the right treatment.


If you need emergency care or would like to schedule an appointment for medical treatment, call us at 952-831-8272 or send a message to on our contact page.