Blood collection is challenging in rats and mice, and heavy sedation or general anesthesia is almost always required in clinical practice. Increasing patient body temperature to promote vasodilation can also be helpful. Gently warm the rodent by placing its cage on a heating pad set on low or by placing the cage in an incubator set at 39°C (102°F) for 5 to 10 minutes. Monitor the patient carefully…
Among exotic animals, venous cutdown is most commonly employed in reptiles like lizards and snakes although intraosseous catheters are also placed in lizards. Similarly, when an exotic companion mammal like a ferret or rabbit suffers from severe hypovolemia, dehydration, hypotension, and vascular collapse, intraosseous catheters have largely replaced venous cutdowns but this technique is occasionally employed.
Intravenous catheters are commonly placed in ferrets and rabbits to administer fluids and medications, induce anesthesia, and for delivery of analgesic drugs during and after surgery. Intravenous catheters are also placed with growing frequency in chinchillas, guinea pigs and other small exotic companion mammals. Use this video clip or text with still images to review patient selection, potential complications, equipment needed and step-by-step instructions for this technique, as well as daily fluid requirements, catheter maintenance, and patient monitoring.
All but the weakest ferrets can be challenging to restrain for blood collection. Consider sedation or general anesthesia, particularly if the handler or phlebotomist is relatively inexperienced; however remember that anesthesia can affect ferret hematology.
Use this video clip or article with still images to review equipment needed, and potential venipuncture sites including the jugular vein, cranial vena cava, lateral saphenous vein, and cephalic vein.
Intravenous catheters are commonly placed in rabbits to administer fluids, medications, induce anesthesia, and for delivery of analgesic drugs during the perioperative and postoperative periods. Catheterization techniques used in dogs and cats can also be used for rabbits. To reduce the time in handling and reduce stress, supplies needed for catheterization should be set out and ready to go, prior to removing the patient from the cage.
The rabbit has a relatively short prothrombin time and whole blood quickly clots at room temperature. To minimize the risk of clot formation, it can be helpful to pre-heparinize the needle and syringe by drawing heparin into the needle and expelling the excess from the hub. The total volume of blood that can be safely collected typically ranges from 0.5% to 1.0% body weight. Collect smaller volumes from geriatric patients or those suspected to have anemia or hypoproteinemia.
Use this video clip or article with still images to review equipment needed, and potential venipuncture sites including the jugular vein, lateral saphenous vein, and ear vessels.
Hematological and serum chemistry tests are considered part of the minimum database, yet collecting blood samples from small mammals can be extremely challenging. This review article reviews the recommended venipuncture site in popular exotic companion mammals including many rodents, rabbits, ferrets, hedgehogs, and sugar gliders. Sample collection from peripheral vessels including the cephalic, saphenous, tail, jugular, ear, and submandibular vein is discussed.
Blind venipuncture sites such as the cranial vena cava and femoral vessels are also described. Veterinary health professionals are also acquainted with the potential risks associated with blood collection from these small species, especially those presenting in advanced diseased states. Tips for clinical success are also shared.