Evaluation of the effects of hospital visit stress on physiologic variables in dogs

Ryan F. Bragg Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Jennifer S. Bennett Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Annelise Cummings Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Jessica M. Quimby Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Abstract

Objective—To evaluate differences in pulse rate, rectal temperature, respiratory rate, and systolic arterial blood pressure in dogs between the home and veterinary hospital environments.

Design—Prospective observational study.

Animals—30 client-owned healthy dogs.

Procedures—Study dogs had respiratory rate, pulse rate, rectal temperature, and systolic arterial blood pressure measured in their home environment. Dogs were then transported to the veterinary hospital, and measurements were repeated.

Results—Significant differences in blood pressure, rectal temperature, and pulse rate were observed between measurements obtained in the home and hospital environments. Mean blood pressure increased by 16% (95% confidence interval [CI], 8.8% to 24%), rectal temperature increased by < 1% (95% CI, 0.1% to 0.6%), and pulse rate increased by 11% (95% CI, 5.3% to 17.6%). The number of dogs panting in the hospital environment (19/30 [63%]) was significantly higher than the number of dogs panting in the home environment (5/30 [17%])

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of the present study suggested that practitioners should consider stress from transportation and environmental change when canine patients have abnormalities of vital signs on initial examination, and the variables in question should be rechecked before a definitive diagnosis of medical illness is reached or extensive further workup is pursued.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate differences in pulse rate, rectal temperature, respiratory rate, and systolic arterial blood pressure in dogs between the home and veterinary hospital environments.

Design—Prospective observational study.

Animals—30 client-owned healthy dogs.

Procedures—Study dogs had respiratory rate, pulse rate, rectal temperature, and systolic arterial blood pressure measured in their home environment. Dogs were then transported to the veterinary hospital, and measurements were repeated.

Results—Significant differences in blood pressure, rectal temperature, and pulse rate were observed between measurements obtained in the home and hospital environments. Mean blood pressure increased by 16% (95% confidence interval [CI], 8.8% to 24%), rectal temperature increased by < 1% (95% CI, 0.1% to 0.6%), and pulse rate increased by 11% (95% CI, 5.3% to 17.6%). The number of dogs panting in the hospital environment (19/30 [63%]) was significantly higher than the number of dogs panting in the home environment (5/30 [17%])

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of the present study suggested that practitioners should consider stress from transportation and environmental change when canine patients have abnormalities of vital signs on initial examination, and the variables in question should be rechecked before a definitive diagnosis of medical illness is reached or extensive further workup is pursued.

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