Cold Exposure in Dogs and People
The news agencies are reporting that one of the finalists in the recently completed Westminster Dog Show had escaped its cage at the airport in New York and was seen roaming in the marshes next to a runway. Authorities made several unsuccessful attempts at catching the whippet, a type of hound dog similar to the greyhound.
What type of danger is this dog champion in from the elements? Probably not much considering that dogs are built for tolerating the elements and the dry, above
freezing temperatures in the Northeast today and the fur coat on most of the animal’s body surface.
However, the same can not be said of a human. It is a common misperception that cold exposure and hypothermia can not occur in a patient if it is above freezing. In fact, experienced trauma surgeons and emergency room doctors will tell you that cold exposure leading to mental confusion, a slow heart rate or bradycardia, and a low blood pressure or hypotension is not uncommon for wet and windy days in the low 40’s, where people do not take the exposure risk seriously and do not dress in layers and wear hats. One typical scenario where this happens is inexperienced hunters in the marshes shooting game birds.
Two other things that contribute to the risk of cold exposure and hypothermia is dehydration and alcohol use. If cold exposure does occur most physicians recommend urgent referral to medical care and attempts at warming such as removing wet clothing, covering the head, and wrapping the person in blankets.
Copyright 2006 Insidesurgery.com