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Reusing thermometers

Species: Dog
Breed: Lhasa Apso
Age: 5-8 years
I took my Lhasa Apso, Monroe, to Banfield at PetSmart today. He is having issues with sutures working their way through his incision (2 months old). In the preliminary exam, the tech took his temperature, using one of those digital white plastic thermometers, with the metal end. When she was finished getting the reading, she grabbed a gauze pad, put some alcohol on it, and rubbed the dirty end of the thermometer for a couple of seconds. She then put the thermometer back into the drawer with other instruments, to be used again. I told her I thought this was highly unsanitary, and that they should be using disposables. She shrugged it off. I mentioned it to the vet, her response was "this is my first day, I don't know what their procedure is". Am I freaking out over nothing?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

This is a tough situation for me to comment on as I don't know all of the facts.

In some practices they will clean off the thermometer and then put it in a container that is holding disinfectant. In other places, a disposable thermometer cover is used. However, these can be frustrating to work with and can make the insertion of the thermometer more uncomfortable for the dog.

Is it possible that when she put the thermometer in the drawer there was a disinfectant container in the drawer?

I would agree that if the thermometer was just being wiped with alcohol and then put back in the drawer that doesn't sound like a good idea. With that being said, the chance of spreading disease is extremely small. Most diseases that are spread through the feces of dogs are spread by fecal-oral transmission so as long as the dogs are not licking the thermometers the risk is small.

If you are concerned it may be worthwhile to write a politely worded letter to the manager or owner of the clinic with your concerns and ask if they could consider changing their practice.

I hope this helps!

Dr. Marie.

---This question was asked in our Ask A Vet For Free section.---


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.