The research team from the Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera directed by Professor José Ignacio Redondo published in Veterinary Record the first global study that clinically documents the prevalence of hypothermia in dogs after surgery and after diagnostic tests that require anaesthetic. The 83.6% of the 1,525 dogs studied presented this complication, whereas in humans this percentage is between 30 and 60% of cases.
Research showed that hypothermia is a frequent complication of anaesthesia in the case of dogs. To reduce its prevalence, the researchers note that it is necessary to prevent heat loss in these animals before starting these veterinary interventions. Such prevention is particularly important in the case of dogs showing higher percentages of hypothermia, according to the study: smaller dogs and those undergoing thoracic surgery or diagnostic procedures requiring prolonged anaesthetic.
The researchers analysed over 1,500 cases of anesthetized animals in the University Clinical Hospitals of the CEU Cardenal Herrera and Cordoba. The variables directly related to hypothermia in dogs registered at the end of an operation include the duration of the pre-anaesthesia and anaesthesia, the physical condition of the animal and, also, their posture during surgery (sternal and dorsal recumbencies showed lower temperatures than lateral recumbency).
In a previous study, the same research team determined that this prevalence rate is even higher in the case of cats: 96.7 percent of cats suffer from hypothermia in procedures requiring anaesthetic. In this case, the study showed that abdominal and orthopaedic interventions generate a greater decrease in cat's body temperature.
These two studies show that hypothermia is the most common anaesthetic complication in dogs and cats, even more than in human anaesthesiology. Therefore, the valencian researchers believe that temperature should be continuously monitored and vets should take preventive measures to avoid heat loss during procedures.
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