Monitoring Vital Signs in Exotic Animal Species

Even the most steadfast and seasoned veterinary anesthetist can find themselves intimidated by exotic animal patients. Standard veterinary anesthesia monitors are not designed to read the extremely high (or extremely low) heart rates and respiratory rates of some exotic animal patients. Despite these challenges, valuable information can be gathered from monitoring tools as well as hands-on techniques. Essential vital signs, such as heart rate and rhythm, respiratory rate and depth, body temperature, and mucous membrane color should all be evaluated.

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Blood Pressure Monitoring in Exotic Animal Species

Arterial blood pressure is a function of heart rate, blood volume, stroke volume, and arterial compliance. Indirect arterial blood pressure is most commonly measured by Doppler ultrasound or non-invasive oscillometric monitors. What are the limitations of indirect blood pressure measurements in exotic animal patients? How is this technique unique in exotic companion mammals when compared to dogs and cats? How is this technique performed in birds and can this procedure be used in reptiles?

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Electrocardiography in Exotic Animal Species

Electrocardiography can be used to detect and diagnose arrhythmias and conduction abnormalities, particularly during long-term anesthesia. How are leads attached to exotic animal patients? And what is the normal appearance of normal electrocardiogram tracings in birds or reptiles?

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Pulse Oximetry in Exotic Animal Species

Heart rate and oxygenation should ideally be monitored during every anesthetic event. Patient size can limit the accuracy of pulse oximetry readings in exotic companion mammals and this technique has not been validated in birds or reptiles, however trends during the course of anesthesia can still provide useful clues to patient clinical status.

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Sea Turtle Physical Examination: Part 2

Part of a unique series on sea turtle veterinary medicine and wildlife rehabilitation, this article explores many components of the sea turtle physical exam. Evaluation of the shell is discussed in both cheloniids and leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) as well as assessment of the cardiopulomonary system, skin, long bones and joints, cloaca and tail. Evaluation of the coelom by inguinal palpation is described as well as measurement of body temperature. Specialized testing such as neurologic and in-water examinations are also described. Common physical examination findings like fibropapillomas in green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and epibiota in loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) are also discussed. LOGIN to view references.

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Atherosclerosis in Birds

What is atherosclerosis?

Atherosclerosis is characterized by fibrous plaques between the tunica intima and the internal elastic lamina of the vasculature. The heart, great vessels, and peripheral vessels of all sizes can be affected. Atherosclerosis begins with the formation of fatty streaks, which can eventually progress into fibrous plaques and complicated lesions…

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Cardiac Disease in Ferrets

Cardiac disease is common in middle-aged and older domestic ferrets. Dilated cardiomyopathy is the most common heart disorder in older ferrets, however hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and valve conditions also occur in the ferret. Clinical signs range from asymptomatic disease to fulminate heart failure with problems such as anorexia, weakness, and dyspnea.

Article  Presenting Problem  Quiz 

Presenting problem: Cardiac Dysrhythmia in the Ferret

Have you ausculted an arrhythmia in a ferret. Now what? Cardiac dysrhythmias can encompass a wide range of clinical syndromes that vary in significance and signs.

Do you consider ferret arrhythmias a cinch? Take our quiz to confirm you’re ready to auscult in a pinch!

Article  Presenting Problem 

Presenting problem: Dyspnea in Rabbits

It is critical to approach the dyspneic rabbit quietly, carefully, and gently. Many rabbits with respiratory disease are unstable upon presentation, given the stress of their condition compounded by the stress of transport and the strange smells, sights and sounds of the veterinary clinic. In many cases, it is prudent to delay handling the patient. Transfer the rabbit to…

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Radiology in the Ferret

In many ways, radiographic anatomy of the ferret is similar to that seen in dogs and cats. Unique features include the…

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How to Verify Life (and Death) in Reptiles

Nowhere is the mystery of life and death more apparent than when dealing with reptiles.

Detecting the reptile heart rate: Even in the active, healthy reptile the stethoscope is generally a useless piece of equipment. The presence of scales or the shell makes auscultation of the heart difficult, if not impossible, in many instances. Therefore ancillary testing such as ultrasonography or electrocardiography is required.

Article  Presenting Problem 

Heatstroke in Exotic Companion Mammals

Heatstroke is the most severe form of heat-related illnesses. In this life-threatening condition, the body is unable to dissipate heat load at a rate that accommodates excessive heat levels.

Begin treatment immediately once heatstroke is suspected. Intensive care is aimed at reducing body temperature while supporting organ function. A variety of techniques can be used to lower core body temperature. Administration of intravenous or intraosseous fluids is a popular internal cooling technique that also serves to support organ function…

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Measuring Avian Blood Pressure

Arterial blood pressure measurement is an important tool in the management of the critically ill bird. Systolic blood pressure is the pressure exerted against the blood vessel wall during contraction of the heart. Although direct arterial pressure measurement is ideal, it is not commonly used because of the need for specific technical skill, invasive nature of the procedure, and cost of equipment.