Cold Ears in Dogs - Causes and Treatments

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The changes in the temperature of the ears of our dogs can be due to situations beyond the temperature. Specifically, cold ears in dogs occur when they are cold or develop hypothermia if the weather conditions are very adverse, and the temperature should be restored as soon as possible.

On the contrary, hot ears, in addition to high external temperature or being near a heat source, can indicate problems such as fever, allergies, infection and intoxication. Keep reading this AnimalWised article to learn more about the Causes and Treatments of Cold Ears in Dogs.

You may also be interested in: My cat has cold ears - Why and what to do? Index
  1. Why do a dog's ears change temperature so fast?
  2. Are the ears useful to know the temperature of our dog?
  3. Symptoms of hypothermia and cold ears in dogs
  4. How to treat cold ears in dogs?

Why do a dog's ears change temperature so fast?

The ears are rich in blood vessels, the temperature of which is linked to blood circulation. They're a temperature sensitive zone whose temperature varies enormously depending on the temperature, since their skin is very thin and they are barely covered with hair. Generally, the ears of our dogs are at a somewhat lower temperature than the rest of the body, without indicating that something is wrong..

Causes of hot ears in dogs

The ears can become hotter in the following cases:

  • Fever.
  • Infection.
  • Inflammation.
  • Poisoning.
  • High temperatures.
  • Heatstroke.
  • Being near a heat source such as a heater in winter.
  • Agitation after strenuous exercise.

Causes of cold ears in dogs

On the contrary, if your dog has cold ears, you should think about the following situations:

  • Low ambient temperature.
  • Cold air stream.
  • Wet fur or skin.
  • Sleeping outside in winter.
  • Strolling when temperatures are extremely low.
  • If it snows or freezes and they are outside.
  • If they present hypothyroidism due to a reduction in metabolism and in the individual's ability to thermoregulate.
  • Hypotension (drugs, poisonings, allergic reactions ...).
  • Prolonged anesthesia.
  • Hypovolemic shock from blood loss, trauma, internal bleeding, operations...
  • Concussion.

All of these causes of cold ears can lead to a more or less severe hypothermia in the dog. Small breed dogs, those from warm areas, those with little hair, puppies or older dogs are more likely to suffer from it. This is due to the fact that they have difficulty in thermoregulating themselves or cannot in the case of newborns, or that they lack sufficient coverage of fat, layer of hair or skin to protect them against the cold..

Are the ears useful to know the temperature of our dog?

Because they can vary rapidly depending on the environmental temperature, it may not indicate that our dog really has a fever or, on the contrary, hypothermia. To ensure that our dog has an optimal temperature, we must measure the temperature with a digital thermometer inserted into the anal mucosa, an area that more accurately reveals the temperature of our dog.

It should be considered that the normal temperature of an adult dog is between 38 and 39 ºC, they are very cold if it is less than 35 ºC, symptoms of hypothermia may appear. Hypothermia will be evident if they drop below 32 ºC and will be very serious when the temperature drops below 28 ºC, greatly endangering the life of the dog.

Cold temperatures can also increase our dog's risk of developing cold-related illnesses, such as kennel cough..

Symptoms of hypothermia and cold ears in dogs

The first symptoms of mild or moderate hypothermia coincide with the signs that a dog is cold, being the following:

  • Muscular stiffness.
  • Cramps.
  • Tremors.
  • Dry Skin.
  • Bradypnea (slow breathing).
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Clumsiness.
  • Lethargy.
  • Slow movements.
  • Drowsiness.

For more information, we encourage you to read this other article about ¿How to know if my dog ​​is cold?

In case of not being treated quickly, hypothermia will progress and it will deeply weaken our dog. In addition, glucose is beginning to be consumed at high levels to try to regulate body temperature, depleting reserves. Dogs with cold or severe hypothermia will show a more severe decay with the following clinical signs:

  • Low blood pressure.
  • Bradycardia.
  • Anorexy.
  • Hypoglycemia.
  • Disorientation.
  • Depression.
  • Stare.
  • Mydriasis (dilated pupils).
  • Fainting.
  • Collapse.
  • Sudden death.

In cases where dogs lose a considerable amount of blood due to internal or external bleeding they can enter hypovolemic shock because the volume (or total blood volume) drops rapidly, causing the heart to not be able to pump enough blood and what is known as "triad of death " and consists of hypothermia, acidosis, hypotension, bradycardia, and coagulopathy. These hemorrhages can be caused by accidents, trauma, operations, tumors or ruptured spleen, gastric dilation-torsion or digestive hemorrhagic diseases. In addition to all these clinical signs, your dog's ears will be cold..

How to treat cold ears in dogs?

As the temperature drops, in addition to lowering the temperature of your dog's ears, so does the blood pressure and heart rate, which can cause them to appear arrhythmias or cardiac and circulatory disorders. Blood oxygen is also reduced, metabolism slows down and even a multi-organ dysfunction syndrome can occur..

Faced with the discovery that our dog has cold ears due to a drop in body temperature, cold or hypothermia the following must be done:

  • Maintaining a suitable environment to increase the temperature gradually, with lamps, electrical appliances or heating.
  • If the dog is wet, it should be effectively dried immediately.
  • Shelter him with blankets and coats, and if he is small, hold him in your arms to provide him with our body heat.
  • If it is cold, you should try to take the dog out in the hottest hours, keep it warm and avoid sleeping outside.
  • At the vet, application of fluid therapy or warm enemas.
  • Glucose administration to prevent or reverse hypoglycemia.

Must be take the dog to the vet before the appearance of any of the aforementioned symptoms, when noticing that your ears have cold and the body temperature has dropped to assess whether there has been damage or alterations and give them a solution.

For more information, we recommend reading this other AnimalWised article about ¿How to take care of a dog in winter?

This article is merely informative, at we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.

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