Very recently, animal rescuers in the state of Michigan secured a dog that had ventured out onto the thin ice of the Detroit River. For those who are curious, what happened was that Detroit Animal Care and Control officers were called in because of a dog wandering about in Belle Isle State Park. Unfortunately, their efforts spooked the dog, with the result that it swam through the freezing water to a small island. Due to this, the Detroit Animal Care and Control officers had to call in the Michigan Humane Animal Search and Rescue Team, which was the one organization in the region that possessed the expertise, the experience, and the equipment needed to perform a water rescue. Amusingly, their efforts spooked the dog a second time, with the result that it ran back to the shore using the ice. There, the animals was secured by waiting officers before being brought to the Michigan Humane Mackey Center for Animal Care for medical treatment.
Why Was This So Dangerous For the Dog?
Being a stray dog isn’t a very pleasant experience. After all, even if a stray dog is knowledgeable about being a stray dog, it is still living in an inhospitable environment. Thanks to this, stray dogs have poor access to food, water, and the other necessities of life. Even if they can stay alive, they tend to suffer a lot because of this. In wintertime, the need for shelter becomes more pressing than in the other seasons. Generally speaking, dogs are more capable of surviving low temperatures than humans because of their coats. Unfortunately, there are limits to how much this can help, as shown by the numerous cases of dogs suffering from hypothermia. Of course, there are some situations that can cause this issue to set in sooner than otherwise possible, with an excellent example being swimming through freezing water. In part, this is because living being lose their body heat faster in the water than in the air. However, it should also be mentioned that a wet coat will make it very difficult for a dog to retain its body heat even when it has emerged from the water.
What Should You Do If You See an Animal Stuck In Such Circumstances?
For starters, it can be useful for interested individuals to recognize the signs of hypothermia in dogs. After all, while dogs are quite good at understanding humans and vice versa, they are still far from being able to communicate in the same way that humans can communicate with one another. For that matter, living beings that are suffering from hypothermia are not guaranteed to recognize that this is the case, thus creating another complication. Regardless, strong shivering is one of the most common signs of hypothermia in dogs. However, it becomes extra concerning when strong shivering is followed by a sudden lack of shivering. Similarly, interested individuals should be concerned about signs of a stupor, signs of weakness, and signs of sleepiness. Other signs of hypothermia include but are by no means guaranteed to include cold fur, cold skin, problems breathing, problems walking about, and a slowed heart rate.
If interested individuals notice these signs, they should intervene as soon as possible. Perhaps unsurprisingly, removing a dog from the cold environment is the first step. After which, interested individuals should work on drying them off using either towels or some other suitable method. Once this has been carried out, there are various tools that can prove useful for warming up the dog. For example, a blanket that has been warmed up in a dryer can be very useful. Likewise, hot-water bottles can be very useful as well, though they should be wrapped in towels to prevent burning. On top of this, warm fluids can be beneficial for cold dogs in the same way that they can be beneficial for cold humans. In any case, there are limits to what most people can manage on their own. If they are failing to get the results that they desire, they need to seek out emergency assistance.
Having said this, preventing hypothermia in dogs is much better than treating hypothermia in dogs. In some cases, it might be better to avoid bringing dogs out into the cold altogether. This includes small dogs, very young dogs, very old dogs, and dogs that have shorter hairs than normal. However, if interested individuals have to bring them out into the cold for some reason, it is a good idea to provide them with either a dog sweater or something similar for extra warmth. Even so, there are limits to how much such preparations can help, meaning that if the weather is too cold, it is better to stay indoors rather than venture outdoors.
On a similar note, it is best for interested individuals to prevent dogs from jumping into freezing waters rather than be presented with the problem of having to get dogs out of freezing waters. This means keeping a watchful eye on their pet dogs when they are outside. Furthermore, this means avoiding places where their pet dogs might fall through because wintertime conditions can make it very difficult to tell exactly what the ground beneath is like. The problem is that even the utmost caution can fail. Never mind the fact that people might sometimes come upon dogs that they don’t own in the freezing water.
As a rule of thumb, interested individuals should never just jump in when they see dogs in the freezing water. After all, humans tend to do even worse under such conditions than dogs, meaning that chances are very good that this course of action won’t prove to be very helpful. This is particularly true because if humans manage to get themselves into trouble, any rescuers are going to prioritize their wellbeing over that of the dog’s wellbeing. Something that matters a lot because that lost time can make a huge difference in the ultimate outcome for the dog. As such, if interested individuals see a dog in freezing water, their best option is to call for emergency assistance so that someone with the right expertise, the right experience, and the right equipment can handle it, thus ensuring the best results from the situation.