Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Hypothermia

Contributor(s): Elisa Mazzaferro

Introduction

  • Normal body temperature is 37.7°C to 39.2°C.
  • Hypothermia exists when core body temperature is below this value.
  • The most accurate measurement of core body temperature is made using an esophageal probe placed at the heart base.
  • In conscious dogs, a rectal thermometer provides a rough estimation of core temperature.
  • In anesthetized dogs rectal thermometers can be very inaccurate.

Causes of hypothermia

Small dogs and puppies with large surface area/volume ratios are particularly susceptible.

Anesthesia

  • The main cause of hypothermia in dogs. Several factors are responsible for this:
    • Sedatives and general anesthetic agents cause vasodilation and inhibit thermoregulatory processes, eg shivering.
    • Excessive use of alcohol-based cleaning agents during preparation for surgery.
    • Cold environments.
    • Exposure of body cavities to ambient temperature.
    • Surgical blood loss.
    • IV administration of cold fluids.
    Occasional hypothermia is deliberately induced during anesthesia to prevent brain damage if blood supply to the CNS is likely to be compromised.

Other causes

Effects of hypothermia

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Prevention of hypothermia during surgery

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Rewarming

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Monitoring

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from VetMed Resource and PubMed.
  • Cabell L W, Perkowski S Z, Gregor T & Smith G K (1997) The effects of active peripheral skin warming on peri-operative hypothermia in dogs. Vet Surg 26, 79-85.
  • Dhupa N (1995) Hypothermia in dogs and cats. Comp Cont Ed Pract Vet 17, 61-68.
  • Weirich W E (1994) Hypothermia for cardiac surgery. Semin in Vet Surg 9, 206-209.
  • Dunlop C I, Duant D A & Haskins S C (1989) Thermal burns in 4 dogs during anesthesia. Vet Surg 18, 242-246.


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