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Friday, August 11 • 9:10am - 10:00am
Environmental emergencies: The potentially lethal effects of the elements of the environment and how to manage them in dogs and cats

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The most acutely lethal of the elements, fire, can cause smoke inhalation, carbon monoxide poisoning, and thermal burns; hypoxia from CO poisoning is presumably the most common cause of acute death. The most severe respiratory complications occur if the animal is close enough to the flames to also sustain burn injuries. Treatment includes oxygen supplementation, IV fluids, pain management, specific treatment of known inhaled toxins, and systemic and local therapy for dermal burns. Burns will be classified and a blueprint will be developed for management of dermal burns and the multiple sequelae that ensue.                                                                                                                       
In dogs, over 70% of total body heat loss is dissipated through radiation & convection from the body surfaces (peripheral vasodilation). Evaporation essentially via panting becomes important in maintaining normothermia as the environmental temperature rises to close to body temperature. There is a large surface area for water loss from the moist membranes of the nasal turbinates and are essential in evaporative cooling; hypersalivation improves this evaporation efficiency. High humid environments (>35%) reduce evaporative efficiency, and when humidity is >80%, evaporation is effectively negated. Seeking cooler locations aids heat dissipating mechanisms – warm blood at the periphery loses some heat as the body lies on a cool surface. Core body temperature rises when heat dissipating mechanisms become overwhelmed and non-pyrogenic hyperthermia occurs.           
Near drowning is a catastrophe of the water element – both wet drowning (aspiration of the water) and dry drowning (laryngospasm prevents fluid aspiration) result in the same hypoxaemic &  hypercarbic state. It is important to note that the initial difference between saltwater & freshwater drowning seems to be of little clinical difference, although aspiration of seawater characteristically leads to more hypoxaemia than aspiration of an equal volume of freshwater. Hypothermia is defined as a core body temperature of less than 35’C & can lead to severe derangements of the vital systems.                                                                                                                                                                                Primary Hypothermia occurs as a result of exposure to low environmental temperatures; some causes of secondary hypothermia include anaesthesia and surgery. Potential complications include CNS disturbances, CV & respiratory depression, acid-base and electrolyte disturbances, coagulopathy. Aggressive rewarming and prudent volume resuscitation are vital therapy measures but the clinician needs to anticipate hurdles to recovery

avatar for Terry King

Terry King

Veterinary Specialist Services
Terry, a native of Northern Australia, graduated from the University of Queensland, School of Veterinary Science in 1975 and spent the next 19 years in private practice in outer suburban (mostly small animal) Brisbane.  After a year's sojourn in the USA and Brisbane's Animal Emergency... Read More →

Friday August 11, 2017 9:10am - 10:00am AEST
Central A