Thermography is an animal-friendly and environmentally safe procedure to monitor the health of an animal. It can be repeated frequently without causing discomfort or damage.
Infrared thermography provides a detailed image of localised temperatures on the body surface of an animal. The temperature of bilateral symmetrical body parts can then be compared with each other for areas of increased or reduced temperature. At the same time the local temperatures can be compared to a normal ideal temperature pattern for a particular area. Many factors influence the local skin surface temperature. These will have to be accounted or controlled for before a useful conclusion can be drawn*.
Anything that causes an increase or decrease in temperature can be localised with thermography. Further diagnostics may then be necessary. It has been shown that thermography can detect some forms of physical damage (tendons, ligaments) up to 2-3 weeks before clinical signs become apparent. This means that targeted treatment can start earlier, and further injury can be prevented. This will lead to less time spent being injured and milder injuries overall. Another advantage of thermography is the ability to monitor a problem area frequently, so that treatment and rehabilitation can be adjusted for faster recovery times.
Thermography can be very useful in those conditions were the owner feels their animal is “off”, but where nothing can be found during a conventional veterinary exam.
Thermography is a great addition to the stable of examining tools to help improve the health of animals.
*Very hairy animals, or animals covered in wool or fibre limit the usefulness of infrared thermography due to the insulating nature of the coat.
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