About Small Animal Warming
There are several different techniques to warm laboratory animals. Kent Scientific provides products that warm animals using two of the most common methods, circulating water warming pads and infrared heating blankets.
Thermoregulation of anesthetized laboratory animals
Animals frequently become hypothermic when exposed to anesthesia because of inhalation of cold gases, exposure of body cavities to the room air, and loss of normal thermoregulatory mechanisms and behaviors. Hypothermia depresses all physiologic functions, including respiration and cardiac function. It also slows the metabolism of anesthetics and results in prolonged recoveries. All of these causes can contribute to anesthetic death. Hyperthermia is less common, but may occur because of excessive application of heat, hot surgery lights or malignant hyperthermia in genetically pre-disposed animals. Body temperature should be monitored frequently using a thermometer during NIBP studies, surgical procedures and anesthetic recovery.
Because the ratio of body surface area to body mass is greater in rodents than in larger species, thermal support is often critical to the successful recovery of rodents from anesthesia and surgery. Hypothermia often leads to decreases in metabolism of anesthetic drugs and urinary excretion of such drugs with resulting prolongation of the anesthesia period.
Particularly in rats and mice, body heat may be dissipated from the tail, soles of the feet or ears with resultant significant decreases in the core and surface body temperatures.
Methods to minimize heat loss to the external environment (during surgery and post-surgical recovery of rodents) include:
• increasing the ambient temperature of the surgical room/procedure room
• placement of a thermal blanket (such as a recirculating warm water or infrared heating pad) between the animal and heat- absorbing surfaces
• minimizing organ exposure from body cavities during surgery
• placing the animal on a warming blanket or within a temperature supported cage
• administration of warmed subcutaneous or intraperitoneal fluids intra- and/or postoperatively
• using bedding during post-surgical recovery to provide thermal insulation