Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Heat therapy

Contributor(s): Narelle Walter, Anna Meredith, Allan Muir

Introduction

  • A rabbits normal body temperature range is 38.5-40°C/101.3-104°F. 
  • Temperatures of <37.9°C/102°F are considered hypothermic.
  • Rabbits in shock can present with hypothermia, bradycardia and hypotension.  
  • Active warming, alongside fluid therapy, is a major part of the treatment of the shocked/collapsed rabbit.
  • Hypothermia Hypothermia can contribute to poor response to fluid therapy and resuscitation in shocked animals. Low rectal temperatures (<37.8°C/100°F) cause adrenergic receptors to become refractory to catecholamines. This is thought to contribute to bradycardia and hypotension by impairing vasoconstriction compensation pathways. If aggressive fluid therapy is undertaken without re-warming procedures, pulmonary edema and death may result.
  • Rabbits with hypothermia at the point of admission have been shown to have a 3x increased chance of death before or within 1 week of discharge compared to non-hypothermic patients; rectal temperature evaluation is therefore essential in presented rabbit patients.

It should be noted that active warming should be delayed in shocked patients until fluid therapy and adequate perfusion is achieved (blood pressure >40 mmHg). Active warming can cause peripheral capillary dilation and further aggravate hypotension.

Predisposing causes

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Administration

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Heat stress

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Di Girolamo N, Toth G & Selleri P (2016) Prognostic value of rectal temperature at hospital admission in client-owned rabbits. J Am Vet Med Assoc 248 (3), 288-297 PubMed.
  • Paul-Murphy J (2007) Critical care of the rabbit. Vet Clin North Am Exotic Anim Pract 10 (2), 437-461 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Lichtenberger M (2008) Shock and Fluid Therapy in the Rabbit. In: Proc 51st BSAVA Annual Congress. pp 169-171.
  • Hess L (2006) Clinical techniques in Rabbits. In: NAVC Proceedings.
  • Johnston M (2006) Clinical Monitoring of the Critically Ill Rabbit. In: IVCS.
  • Harcourt-Brown F (2002) Textbook of Rabbit Medicine. Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN: 0750640022.


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