by Dannielle Moffitt VN, Cronulla Veterinary Clinic, NSW
This pulse oximeter measures heart rate and oxygen saturation in the blood when an animal is under general anaesthetic. It monitors the animal’s condition during surgery and provides an effective back-up to a stethoscope.
What’s good about it
The unit has a small digital screen that displays oxygen saturation as a percentage and heart rate as a number. It also gives off an alarm if any readings go above or below a predetermined level. There is usually no need to panic if the alarm goes off—it’s more of a prompt to manually check the animal again.
The sensor can be attached to the patient’s ear, genital area or in between the toes, but it works best when attached to the tongue. It’s pretty accurate when compared to manual checking—probably within one or two per cent. It’s great to be able to quickly glance at the screen, see that everything is okay and then listen to the heart rate with a stethoscope to confirm.
I’ve been working at this clinic for three years and this oximeter was here when I started. It gets used multiple times a day and we’ve never had any issues with it during that time. It’s generally used on cats and dogs though we’ve also attached it to a rabbit and it worked perfectly well. It’s a very useful and handy piece of equipment.
What’s not so good
Sometimes the probe can’t find a response when attached to various body parts. Applying a wet swab between the sensor and the tongue usually provides connectivity. A more sensitive sensor would be a great improvement.