An Edmonton veterinarian is warning pet owners, after a dog was badly burned by a heating pad that was used during surgery.

Six-year-old Chico is on the long road to recovery, after he suffered serious thermal burns from a common tool used by veterinarians during surgery.

Chico had to have all of his teeth pulled in December, because of periodontal disease.

Two weeks later his foster family found Chico had suffered severe burns, from a heating pad used to keep his core temperature stable during surgery.

Dan Burk, who is fostering Chico, said the burns became infected – which started a round of additional care.

The dog is in the care of a different veterinary clinic, is currently on medication for the infection and requires hydrotherapy twice a day, every day.

“It’s just warm water, you know, flushing out the wounds,” Burk said. “We do that 10, 15 minutes twice a day.”

It’s not yet clear if Chico will require skin grafts in the future.

Dr. Brent Jackson, a veterinarian at Edmonton’s Emergency Vet Clinic said several types heating pads can be used during surgery, and while he’s seen thermal burns before, it’s not common, especially in a vet clinic.

Jackson said patients in critical condition are at higher risk.

“Sometimes it’s not that the warming mechanism is too hot, it’s that the patient is so critical that its circulation to the skin is so compromised,” Dr. Jackson said.

Signs of thermal burns are something Jackson said an animal health technologist is tasked to watch for during surgery.

“Monitoring that patient’s vitals, monitoring that patient’s core temperature,” Jackson said. “Examining the patient’s extremities that aren’t covered and in a sterile field to make sure that patient is being managed appropriately during surgery.”

As for pet owners who use heat therapy on their pets at home, Jackson suggested using microwaveable heating pads, which allow control over the temperature of the pad.

The Animal Rescue and Outreach Society, which is looking after Chico, won’t name the clinic involved, as legal action is being considered.

With files from Amanda Anderson