PHOTOS 1-4: Hospitalized animals must be housed in cages that are secure and comfortable. There should be no sharp edges so the patient cannot hurt itself. The cage should be large enough so the animal can move and turn around. Many critically ill animals may have problems maintaining normal body temperature and need an external heat source. A heating mat can be placed on the floor of the cage so the animal is comfortably warm. Hospitalized animals can develop hyperthermia from heating pads and this should not be confused with true fever. Stainless steel cages should be used and should ideally be placed against the walls of the ward. The cage door must be able to close securely to prevent escape of the patient. Cages must be kept clean and cleaned and disinfected between patients. PHOTO 5: ICU cages should be comfortable and safe for the patient. There should be clear notices of the treatment and special needs of the patient on each cage. Monitoring of patients in the intensive care unit is critical. The cages may be placed on top of each other in rows and adequate space should be allowed for therapeutic and monitoring equipment. PHOTO 6: Oxygen cages are useful for controlling oxygen concentration, temperature and humidity and allow animals to ventilate without assistance. Inspired oxygen concentration of 30-40% is recommended for animals that need oxygen therapy. If the oxygen concentration is too high it can cause oxygen toxicity. Oxygen cages provide a sealed environment, where the fraction of inspired oxygen, humidity and ambient temperature can be controlled and monitored and carbon dioxide can be removed efficiently. Oxygen cages with a Plexiglas front allow observation of the patient, these oxygen cages also have access ports for entry and exit of intravenous lines and monitoring leads. The advantage of using oxygen cages is that it is a non-invasive way of providing oxygen support to critically ill patients. A disadvantage is that oxygen is lost each time the door of the cage is opened. The amount of oxygen lost each time the door is opened and the amount of oxygen needed to fill the cage makes the use of oxygen cages relatively wasteful and expensive.
REFERENCES: PHOTOS 1-6: 1. Manning, AM 2002, ‘Oxygen therapy and toxicity’, Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, vol. 32, no. 5, pp. 1005-1020. [http://www.mdconsult.com]. 2. McCurnin, DM & Bassert, JM 2006, ‘Clinical textbook for veterinary technicians’, 6th ed., Elsevier Saunders, St. Louis, pp.797.
3. Nelson, RW & Couto, CG, (eds) 2009, ‘Small animal internal medicine’ 4th ed., Mosby Elsevier, St. Louis, pp. 1153-1154. 4. Sattler, FP, Knowles, RP & Whittick, WG (eds) 1981, ‘Veterinary critical care’, Lea & Febiger, Philadelphia, pp.10-12. 5. Silverstein, DC & Hopper, K (eds) 2009, ‘Small animal critical care medicine’, Saunders Elsevier, St. Louis, pp. 4.
Metadata assigned by Dr. M. van Schoor, Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Companion Animal Clinical Studies