Research Update: Accuracy Of Noncontact Infrared Thermometers On Horses - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report


Measuring rectal temperatures with a digital thermometer is considered accurate and reliable for estimating a horse's body temperature. But noncontact infrared thermometers may provide a safer, more efficient option for taking a horse's temperature. Researchers at Texas A&M University evaluated the validity of a noncontact infrared thermometer (NCIT) on the neck and forehead compared to a rectal digital thermometer when estimating a horse's body temperature. Clinical Electronic Thermometer

The researchers included 142 adult Quarter Horses (76 mares, 55 geldings, and 11 stallions) and 34 foals (17 male and 17 female) in the study. The adult horses had body condition scores between 5 and 6. Temperatures were taken using a NCIT by holding it .98 inches above the skin in two locations: 1) midline of the forehead, 1.96 inches above a line extending from the medial canthus of each eye and 2) center of the neck on the right hand side, 4.7 inches from the base on adults and 2.3 inches on foals. Rectal temperatures were taken using a digital thermometer.

For adult horses, the mean rectal temperature (99.4 degrees F) was significantly higher than forehead (97.4 degrees F) and neck (97.7 degrees F) temperatures. No differences were observed between male and female horses. In foals, mean rectal temperatures were highest (100.7 degrees F) followed by neck (97.6 degrees F) and forehead (97.1 degrees F) temperatures. No differences were observed between male and female foals.

The researchers found that the accuracy of NCIT temperature readings were poor and differences were large by clinical standards (nearly 2 to 3 degrees F) when compared to rectal temperatures taken with a digital thermometer. Therefore, without additional research, NCITs are not a good alternative to rectal thermometry when monitoring a horse's body temperature.

For more information on this research, read the abstract published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Sciences.  

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