Temperature-sensing microchips inserted into the muscle through the skin provided readings that correlated well with the core body temperature of horses before, during and after exercise.
“Horses that undergo strenuous exercise in hot and humid environments may have heat production that exceeds their ability to dissipate the heat,” Hyungsuk Kang and his University of Queensland colleagues wrote in the journal Animals.
Taken individually, the chip in the pectoral muscle proved most reliable, providing a valid estimation of the core body temperature.
“These results are promising in regards to finding a simple, safe, quick, accurate, and noninvasive method to measure the body temperature of horses immediately after high-speed exercise,” the study team said.
Heat-sensing microchips would also aid further investigation into the most efficient cooling techniques for horses and, ultimately, the best procedures to decrease the prevalence of exertional heat illness at the racetrack.
They said the microchips proved to be a reliable way to measure body temperature. However, the optimal location within horses needs to be determined.
They said implantation of the microchips into muscle was minimally invasive, requiring only the injection of the microchip through a large gauge needle. “After initial implantation, measuring body temperature is completely noninvasive.”
Several studies with this technique have been carried out before, for example in 2009 a study was made over time when looking at the temperature of a group of thoroughbred foals in South Africa. This from birth until weaning. The chip worked well in the study, in addition, they were “lucky” to be able to follow an outbreak among the foals and then the chip was valuable to be able to monitor the fever closely.
As early as 1998, a comparative study was conducted between microchips, infrared thermometers and digital thermometers for the rectum. Then they got results that did not match, which is why microchips and infrared thermometers were not recommended for horses. Since then, however, the technology has evolved. And even then it worked to use microchips to measure the body temperature of goats.