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Prognostic value of rectal temperature at hospital admission in client-owned rabbits

Nicola Di Girolamo DVM, MSC1,2, Giulia Toth DVM3, and Paolo Selleri DVM, PhD4
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  • 1 Clinica per Animali Esotici, Centro Veterinario Specialistico, Via Sandro Giovannini 53, Rome, Italy
  • | 2 Department of Veterinary Sciences, University of Bologna, 40064 Ozzano Emilia, Bologna, Italy
  • | 3 Clinica per Animali Esotici, Centro Veterinario Specialistico, Via Sandro Giovannini 53, Rome, Italy
  • | 4 Clinica per Animali Esotici, Centro Veterinario Specialistico, Via Sandro Giovannini 53, Rome, Italy

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To determine whether rectal temperature at hospital admission, independently or in conjunction with other parameters, was associated with all-cause mortality in client-owned rabbits.

DESIGN Prospective cohort study.

ANIMALS 316 client-owned rabbits consecutively hospitalized in an exotics-only animal hospital.

PROCEDURES Rectal temperature of each hospitalized rabbit was measured at admission. Individual variables, including survival up to 1 week after hospital discharge, were recorded. Univariate, multivariate, and sensitivity analyses were performed.

RESULTS Rabbits with hypothermia at admission had a risk of death before or within 1 week after hospital discharge 3 times that of rabbits without hypothermia (relative risk, 3.09; 95% confidence interval, 2.17 to 4.39). For each 1°C (1.8°F) decrease in admission rectal temperature, the odds of death were doubled (OR, 2.11; 95% confidence interval, 1.69 to 2.64). Sensitivity analyses confirmed the robustness of the finding. Older age, suspected presence of a systemic disease, and presence of gastrointestinal stasis were also significantly associated with an increased risk of death.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Rectal temperature was easily measured in rabbits and was a major predictor of death in the present patient cohort. Because of its association with death in both healthy and diseased rabbits in this study, rectal temperature should always be measured during physical examination of rabbits. Treatment of hypothermia in client-owned rabbits requires further research.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To determine whether rectal temperature at hospital admission, independently or in conjunction with other parameters, was associated with all-cause mortality in client-owned rabbits.

DESIGN Prospective cohort study.

ANIMALS 316 client-owned rabbits consecutively hospitalized in an exotics-only animal hospital.

PROCEDURES Rectal temperature of each hospitalized rabbit was measured at admission. Individual variables, including survival up to 1 week after hospital discharge, were recorded. Univariate, multivariate, and sensitivity analyses were performed.

RESULTS Rabbits with hypothermia at admission had a risk of death before or within 1 week after hospital discharge 3 times that of rabbits without hypothermia (relative risk, 3.09; 95% confidence interval, 2.17 to 4.39). For each 1°C (1.8°F) decrease in admission rectal temperature, the odds of death were doubled (OR, 2.11; 95% confidence interval, 1.69 to 2.64). Sensitivity analyses confirmed the robustness of the finding. Older age, suspected presence of a systemic disease, and presence of gastrointestinal stasis were also significantly associated with an increased risk of death.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Rectal temperature was easily measured in rabbits and was a major predictor of death in the present patient cohort. Because of its association with death in both healthy and diseased rabbits in this study, rectal temperature should always be measured during physical examination of rabbits. Treatment of hypothermia in client-owned rabbits requires further research.

Supplementary Materials

    • eTable 1a (PDF 25 kb)
    • eTable 1b (PDF 66 kb)
    • eTable 2a (PDF 35 kb)

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Di Girolamo (nicoladiggi@gmail.com).