Venipuncture in Small Mammals

Key Points

  • Blood collection from small mammals can be difficult.
  • Carefully weigh the benefits of getting the blood sample versus the risk of the stress from the collection procedure on the patient.
  • Limit blood collection to no more than 0.5-1.0% of body weight.
  • The stress of transport and manual restraint can influence blood test results.
  • Unless the patient is extremely debilitated or extremely calm, use anesthesia or sedation to minimize the stress of handling and venipuncture, but remember that anesthesia can also affect test results.
  • Small blood samples may be collected from the lateral saphenous vein in virtually all small mammals.
  • The cranial vena cava is generally the quickest method to collect the largest amount of blood from the ferret.
  • The jugular vein and femoral vein are also popular venipuncture sites.

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 . . .

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