Hypothermia, core body temperature <98°F, can result in a myriad of adverse effects, including delayed drug metabolism, cardiovascular dysfunction, impaired perfusion, respiratory compromise, cerebral depression, increased incidence of wound infection, etc., and is a very unpleasant sensation in conscious patients (as described by humans).44 Delayed drug metabolism and cerebral depression can result in prolonged recovery.46 The most effective heating methods are circulating warm-water blankets and warm air circulation systems. Other methods of supplemental heat that may be helpful in slowing heat loss include warm IV fluids, use of a fluid line warmer, and insulation on the patient’s feet (bubble wrap, baby socks, etc.). Do not use supplemental heat sources that are not designed specifically for anesthetized patients as they can cause severe thermal injury.47 Because shivering significantly increases oxygen consumption, continue to provide supplemental oxygen to shivering patients, especially those with respiratory or cardiovascular compromise.

These guidelines are supported by generous educational grants from IDEXX Laboratories, Inc., Midmark, and Zoetis Petcare.