Felis ISSN 2398-2950

Hypothermia

Contributor(s): Elisa Mazzaferro, Kim Willoughby

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 cats, a rectal thermometer provides a rough estimation of core temperature.
  • In anesthetized animals rectal thermometers can be very inaccurate.

Causes of hypothermia

Cats have a large surface area/volume ratio and are particularly susceptible.

Anesthesia

  • The main cause of hypothermia in cats. Several factors are responsible for this:
    • Sedatives and general anesthesic 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 compromized.

Other causes

  • Neonates are at particular risk of hypothermia as they have poorly developed temperature regulation systems and large surface area:volume ratios.
  • Cold environment.
  • Poisoning.
  • Septic shock Shock: septic.
  • Ivermectin Ivermectin toxicity.
  • Paracetamol toxicity Acetaminophen (paracetamol) poisoning.
  • Cardiogenic shock Shock: cardiogenic.
  • Decompensatory hypovolemic shock.
  • Coma.
    Follow the diagnostic/management tree for Hypothermia Hypothermia.

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.
  • Hale F A and Anthony J M (1997) Prevention of hypothermia in cats during routine oral hygiene procedures. Can Vet J 38, 297-299.
  • 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.


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