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Comparison of three different methods to prevent heat loss in healthy dogs undergoing 90 minutes of general anesthesia


Correspondence: Stuart Clark-Price, Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, 1008 W Hazelwood Drive, MC-004, Urbana, IL 61802, USA. E-mail:



To compare a towel under, a warm water pad under or a forced warm air blanket over dogs as techniques to reduce heat loss during a standardized anesthetic.

Study design

Prospective, randomized, crossover study.


Eight, healthy, mixed breed dogs weighing 16.3–19.6 kg.


Dogs were anesthetized four times for 90 minutes. Dogs were placed on a steel table (treatment TA), with a cotton towel (treatment TO) or a circulating warm water pad (treatment WP) between the dog and the table, or with, a towel under the dog and covered with a forced warm air blanket (treatment WAB). Rectal temperature (RT) was recorded at 5 minute intervals. Changes in temperature (ΔRT) were calculated as the RT at a given point subtracted from the RT before anesthesia (baseline) and compared over time.


After 90 minutes of anesthesia, the ΔRT was 3.42 °C ± 0.29 for TA, 2.78 °C ± 0.43 for TO, 1.98 °C ± 0.29 for WP, and 0.91 °C ± 0.27 for WAB. Significant differences in ΔRT occurred between TA and WAB at 20 minutes (0.94 °C ± 0.42, p = 0.0206), between TO and WAB at 30 minutes (1.16 °C ± 0.62, p = 0.0063), between WP and WAB at 50 minutes (0.96 °C ± 0.98, p = 0.0249), between TA and WP at 35 minutes (1.19 °C ± 0.54, p = 0.0091), between TO and WP at 70 minutes (1.12 °C ± 0.56, p = 0.0248), and between TA and TO at 75 minutes (0.96 °C ± 0.62, p = 0.0313). These differences in ΔRT between each treatment persisted from the times indicated until the end of the anesthesia.

Conclusion and clinical relevance

During anesthesia, forced warm air blankets were superior to other methods tested for limiting heat loss. An efficient heat loss technique should be used for anesthesia longer than 20 minutes duration in medium sized dogs.