We are ever so slightly obsessed with keeping patients warm before, during and after surgery.

Why? Because patients with a low body temperature will process anesthesia drugs more slowly. As a consequence, they have a slower and tougher recovery.

Let’s go over what we do at Lehigh Regional to keep patients warm before, during and after surgery.

1. Patients are kept warm after sedation

We make sure cats and dogs stay warm after their sedation drugs are given (this is the reason why so many patients featured on our Facebook page) are covered in a blanket. It’s not only because they look cute that way!

Maggie is sandwiched between blankets before surgery to fix her dislocated kneecap.

2. Patients are kept warm before surgery

Then we make sure they stay warm during preparation & clipping. So we use a heating blanket under patients and a regular blanket over them during preparation.

And should the patient need X-rays, we do the same thing in the X-ray room.

3. Patients are kept warm during surgery

One of the many jobs of the anesthesia nurse is to make sure her patient stays warm during surgery.

This includes several ways:

. A warming surgery table

. A warming blanket

Little Lucy is kept warm with a blanket over a grey warming device that blows warm air (called a Bair Hugger, just like in humans).

. Warming devices

. Warm IV fluids. If you think about it, IV fluids are kept at room temperature, around 70 degrees, which is one more reason why patients get colder on IVs since their temperature, to simplify, is around 100 degrees. So that’s a 30 degree difference!

. Baby socks. Yep, baby socks! Research has shown that pets lose most of their heat through their foot pads while under anesthesia. So to prevent heat loss, we cover their feet with baby socks.

Little Lucy is kept warm with a blanket over a warming surgery table. Heat loss is prevented by wearing baby socks, which work even better with unicorns.

4. Patients are kept warm after surgery

Then we make sure the patient stays warm between the OR and the X-ray room, if postop X-rays are needed.

5. Patients are kept warm during recovery

And last but not least, we make sure patients stay warm while they recover from anesthesia. We use regular blankets and if needed, a warming blanket.

As you may know firsthand, humans who wake up from anesthesia are sometimes cold and shivering, and they rarely enjoy the experience.

So yes, we’re a tiny bit fanatical about keeping patients warm. It makes a big difference, not only as they recover from anesthesia, but also in their overall well-being.


If you would like to learn how we can help your pet with safe surgery and anesthesia, contact us through www.LRVSS.com

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, Fear Free Certified