Body condition and hair coat length impact weight estimation in dogs and cats presented to an emergency department

Jacob M. Wolf Department of Clinical Sciences and Advanced Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

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 DVM, DACVECC
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Kenneth J. Drobatz Department of Clinical Sciences and Advanced Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

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 DVM, MS, DACVIM, DACVECC

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To examine weight estimations by veterinarians, veterinary nurses, and veterinary students to determine the accuracy of weight estimation in a veterinary emergency department. Secondary objectives included an initial evaluation of how body condition score (BCS), hair coat length, and hospital position of the estimator impacted accuracy of weight estimation.

ANIMALS

101 dogs and 28 cats that presented to the emergency department from October 17, 2017, to September 3, 2019.

PROCEDURES

A written form was prospectively distributed to veterinarians, veterinary nurses, and veterinary students asking them to estimate a patient weight. Additional information about the patient, including estimated hair length and BCS, was recorded.

RESULTS

As dogs’ weights increased, all estimators underestimated the patients’ weight. As BCS increased, dogs’ weights were underestimated by veterinary students. Longer hair coat statistically significantly impacted accurate weight estimation in dogs. In cats, as BCS increased, veterinarians and veterinary nurses overestimated patient weight. Only 32% (32/101) and 20% (6/28) of weight estimations in dogs and cats, respectively, were within 10% of the patient’s actual weight.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Veterinarians, veterinary nurses, and veterinary students may not be reliable estimators of patient weight in the emergency department, especially with overweight animals. Prompt measurement of weight, if possible, is important for appropriate patient care.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To examine weight estimations by veterinarians, veterinary nurses, and veterinary students to determine the accuracy of weight estimation in a veterinary emergency department. Secondary objectives included an initial evaluation of how body condition score (BCS), hair coat length, and hospital position of the estimator impacted accuracy of weight estimation.

ANIMALS

101 dogs and 28 cats that presented to the emergency department from October 17, 2017, to September 3, 2019.

PROCEDURES

A written form was prospectively distributed to veterinarians, veterinary nurses, and veterinary students asking them to estimate a patient weight. Additional information about the patient, including estimated hair length and BCS, was recorded.

RESULTS

As dogs’ weights increased, all estimators underestimated the patients’ weight. As BCS increased, dogs’ weights were underestimated by veterinary students. Longer hair coat statistically significantly impacted accurate weight estimation in dogs. In cats, as BCS increased, veterinarians and veterinary nurses overestimated patient weight. Only 32% (32/101) and 20% (6/28) of weight estimations in dogs and cats, respectively, were within 10% of the patient’s actual weight.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Veterinarians, veterinary nurses, and veterinary students may not be reliable estimators of patient weight in the emergency department, especially with overweight animals. Prompt measurement of weight, if possible, is important for appropriate patient care.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplementary Appendix S1 (PDF 107 KB)
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