Post exercise changes in compartmental body temperature accompanying intermittent cold water cooling in the hyperthermic horse

D J Marlin, C M Scott, C A Roberts, I Casas, G Holah, R C Schroter
Equine Veterinary Journal 1998, 30 (1): 28-34
Whereas the efficacy of cold water cooling of horses has been demonstrated by several studies, the dynamics of temperature changes within and between compartments (primarily muscle, blood [core], skin and deep core [rectal]) have not been investigated. Changes in body temperature associated with cold water cooling were investigated in the hyperthermic horse. Muscle (TMU), pulmonary artery (TPA), rectal (TREC), tail-skin (TTSK) and coat surface (TCOAT) temperatures, were monitored continuously in 5 Thoroughbred horses during and after exercise in hot humid (30 degrees C and 80% RH) conditions on a treadmill. Horses were cooled in the hot humid environment with cold water (approximately 6 degrees C) for 6 30 s periods. Between each 30 s cooling period the horses stood for 30 s. A total of 180 l of cold water was applied. Horses were monitored for a further 4 min following the final cooling period. From the end of exercise to the end of the final cooling (6.5 min), mean (+/- s.e.) rates of decrease for TTSK and TPA were similar (0.8 +/- 0.1 and 0.8 +/- 0.1 degrees C/min, respectively). The effects on TMU and TREC were less marked, with average rates of 0.2 +/- 0.1 and 0.0 +/- 0.1 degrees C/min, respectively. During the first 4 min of cooling, TPA fell during the 30 s period of water application and rose during each 30 s period of standing. When TPA fell below approximately 36.5 degrees C, these variations were suppressed and TPA rose steadily, despite continued applications; TREC and TMU continued to fall, although less rapidly than before. These observations are consistent with the onset of skin vasoconstriction at low TPA. The mechanism is mediated through a cooling of circulating blood volume providing a greater capacity for heat transfer between muscle and circulation. Intermittent application of cold water (approximately 6 degrees C) improves heat removal without apparent deleterious effects and is well tolerated. Even when hypothermia develops (based on TPA), muscle and rectal temperatures continue to fall.

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