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Overview of Monitoring for the Critically Ill Animal

By Andrew Linklater, DVM, DACVECC, Clinical Instructor, Lakeshore Veterinary Specialists, Glendale, Wisconsin

Anticipation, not reaction, is the key to successful management of critically ill animals. Animals must be effectively treated and actively monitored to detect or prevent organ compromise before organ failure occurs. This often requires aggressive and repeated fluid resuscitation and support throughout the course of definitive therapy.

Tissue hypoxia and organ compromise or failure can be a direct result of the primary disease or can be secondary to the disease or its therapy. Organs frequently affected include the heart and blood vessels, kidneys, lungs, GI tract, and liver. When the disease process is multisystemic, problems such as malnutrition and coagulopathies must be anticipated. Optimal care requires a thorough and methodical approach to diagnostic procedures, monitoring, specific therapeutics, and supportive care.