A research team from the Universidad CEU Cardenal Herrera directed by Professor José Ignacio Redondo has published research in the journal Veterinary Record about the prevalence of hypothermia in dogs after surgery and other diagnostic tests that require anaesthetic. 83.6% of the 1,525 dogs studied presented with the complication, whereas in humans this percentage is between 30 and 60% of cases.
This research supports what many of us have experienced with our own dogs. For example, when Daisy had a dental cleaning earlier this year, her vet reported to me that her temperature dropped after the surgery and they had extra blankets around her to warm her. For this and other reasons, I’m glad I use a veterinary practice that is full-service, and I’m not an owner that is focused simply on costs. (I’ve heard of people shopping around for the lowest cost for a dental; chances are that their pet will not be monitored closely and may not even be given fluids as part of the surgery and recovery.)
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).
Hypothermia is the most common anaesthetic complication in dogs. The researchers recommend that temperature should be continuously monitored and vets should take preventive measures to avoid heat loss during procedures.