Because infrared cameras work in a totally different way to which we are used to, there are some steps we need to take to ensure the thermal images taken of the animal are useful and accurate. If these steps are not followed, useful imaging of the animal may be impossible!
IR (infrared) imaging of animals does not work well in direct sun.
It heats up their skin and reduces the clarity of the image. Ideally the animal should be out of direct sun, i.e. in a shed, lean to, indoors or in deep shade of a tree for 1 hour before imaging. It is also fine if it is a thickly overcast day or indeed night time! Do not stand the animal in deep bedding either as it will abnormally heat the hooves/feet. The animal also needs to be out of cold draughts/wind. Outdoors on a still day is fine but not on a windy day. A breezeway in a stable is often too draughty.
Do not exercise the animal/horse for two hours prior to imaging taking place, and remember we cannot image a sweaty/wet horse. Also avoid any situation that would cause the horse to sweat. Avoid anxiety, transport without covers on and allow at least 30 mins between arrival at destination and consultation time to allow horse to cool to ambient temperature after being in the horse float/truck.
The animal must be fee from dirt and mud. However the animal must be dry as a wet coat artificially cools the animal giving a false reading. Do not groom the animal within 1 hour of imaging as the stimulation of the skin can give a false reading. Pick out the feet, and make sure they are clean. If imaging the neck, bundle the mane up off the neck line with rubber bands. It is also useful to bandage the tail so that the hair at the top of the tail does not mask the hamstrings/gluteals. Liniments, creams, coat sprays etc should all be avoided for 24 hours prior to the consultation if possible.
The animal must be free of blankets, covers, bandages (if possible), float boots etc for at least one hour prior to imaging. Do not pull the mane or tail for 24 hours prior to the consultation. Anything that may artificially heat or cool an area of the animal needs to be avoided. Thermal imaging does not work well when the animal is very hairy, has long hair, or has full feathers.
Please make a note of any medication your animal may be on, and let us know at the time of the consultation. These may be prescribed by your vet, or may be a herbal or homeopathic remedy, or a feed supplement. Some of these preparations affect blood circulation and it is useful to know if the animal is taking them. Many anti-inflammatories will mask the inflammation of an injury and are not recommended if Thermal Imaging is to take place.