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A noninvasive method of temperature measurement using a noncontact handheld infrared thermometer fails to correlate with rectal temperature in dogs and cats

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  • 1 University of Liverpool, Small Animal Teaching Hospital, Liverpool, UK
  • | 2 Clinica Veterinaria Gran Sasso, Milan, Italy
  • | 3 Ospedale Veterinario San Francesco, Milan, Italy

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To perform a retrospective, multicenter observational study that compares the agreement of rectal temperature with the temperature measured with noncontact infrared thermometer (NCIT) in a population of dogs and cats.

Animals

168 dogs and 61 cats.

PROCEDURES

NCIT readings were taken in triplicate from the medial pinna, then rectal temperature was taken with a standard digital rectal thermometer (RT). Ambient room temperature, signalment, presence of icterus, skin and coat color, reason for presentation, and final diagnosis were recorded.

RESULTS

In dogs, median (range) body temperature reflected by RT and NCIT measurements was 38.4 °C (33.4 to 40.3 °C) and 36.3 °C (30.8 to 40.0 °C), respectively. In cats, median (range) body temperature reflected by RT and NCIT measurements was 38.3 °C (36.2 to 40.0 °C) and 35.7 °C (31.8 to 38.0 °C), respectively. There was a weak positive correlation between body temperatures measured by NCIT and RT in dogs (Kendall tau = 0.154), but there was no correlation in cats (Kendall tau = –0.01). A significant, albeit weak, agreement was seen between temperature measured by NCIT and RT in dogs (Kappa value, 0.05), but not cats (Kappa value, –0.08). In both species, NCIT tended to underread body temperature, compared with RT (dogs: mean ± SD bias –2.2 ± 1.51 °C; cats: mean bias –2.7 ± 1.44 °C), with the degree of low measurements lessening as body temperature increased.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Given both poor correlation and agreement in body temperature measured by NCIT and rectal thermometer, NCIT measurements cannot be recommended at the current time as a means to determine body temperature in dogs and cats.

Contributor Notes

Corresponding author: Dr. Barton (james.barton@liverpool.ac.uk)