Choosing a new multi-parameter monitor for everyday use in your practice is not a light undertaking. It will inevitably come with significant financial investment and will need to serve the practice possibly daily for several years to come.

Features, performance, reliability, suitability, and price vary between different manufacturers and models. Some monitors are designed for specific needs that you may not require for most of your patients. In the below guide, we look at the features you need to consider in a monitor that covers your day-to-day requirements in a small animal veterinary practice.

If you are looking for a more in-depth guide or are considering a monitor that is also capable of monitoring more specialist patients, such as equine and exotics, you can read our full buyers guide here: Upgrading or investing? How to choose your new multi-parameter monitor.

Species range

For most small animal veterinary practices, a standard multi-parameter will cover the range of species you see on a day-to-day basis. If you specialise in exotics, you may need to look at a more specialised monitor that can interpret heart rates in smaller animals. Nowadays, some standard multi-parameters even have lower sample rate options, meaning they can monitor even the smallest of kittens or small furies in your practice more accurately.

Portability and battery power

It is worthwhile considering where your monitor will be used. Is it going to be positioned in one place? Or moved around the practice? If it is to be moved around, does the monitor you are looking at have a trolley option? Is there a wall mount bracket available for it to be fixed in one place? And how heavy is it if it's going to be moved around by your staff a lot? Some newer multi-parameters are now surprisingly light.

Required Parameters:

ECG - This is a simple monitoring modality which, usually requires the placement of 3 or 4 cables at strategic points on the patient.

A 3-cable ECG is usually standard, this will give you one channel at a time (Leads I-III). This is normally Lead II, but some monitors allow you to select the channel you wish to view. For example, you may have placed red, green and yellow cables on your patient and be viewing a Lead II trace (Red-Green), but you may be able to change this to a Lead I trace (Red-Yellow), or a Lead III trace (Red-Green). For monitoring purposes, showing only one lead at a time is often all that is needed and usually, Lead II is the most informative. (How to choose your new multi-parameter monitor). Another consideration for this is whether you require an oesophageal probe, as not all multi-parameters support these.

Temperature Monitoring - Ensure the suitability of the available probes in terms of length and size relative to the patient range that you will be using the monitor for. Oesophageal probes often have a temperature sensor embedded in them allowing ECG and temperature measurements to be taken without the inconvenience of multiple cables across the operating table. (How to choose your new multi-parameter monitor).

Capnography - There are two methods of capnography – mainstream or sidestream:

  • Mainstream capnography is where a small cube-like sensor is connected to the end of the endotracheal (ET) tube and the inhaled/exhaled gases pass through the sensor.
  • Sidestream capnography is where a small sampling line takes some of the inhaled/exhaled gas to the monitor and performs the analysis inside the unit. (How to choose your new multi-parameter monitor).

For a wide range of patients, especially when that range covers a lot of very small animals such as small furies and cats, sidestream capnography is the most suitable option. Most multi-parameters only offer sidestream capnography as standard.

Blood Pressure - Blood pressure monitoring is used in conscious patients and those under anaesthesia, therefore consider if this feature will be used outside of the operating theatre, or whether the unit would be a dedicated theatre unit. Size and portability may affect your decision if the unit is to be used for both. (How to choose your new multi-parameter monitor).

For routine small animal caseloads, NIBP is the most common method and is standard on most multi-parameter machines, but do check, as some monitors need extra parameter modules added. IBP may be required when in use with horses, or for small animals in the intensive care environment.


Multi-parameters can really vary in price. But it is important to ensure that you get all the everyday features you require in your monitor, even if this costs more than some of the cheaper options. Otherwise, you will inevitably end up having to purchase extra modules/ or additional monitors down the line to cover all your monitoring requirements.

It is also important to consider what is included with the monitor. Does it come with a trolley or mounting option? Are all the accessories included in the box? Are required extras such as exhaust kits readily available?

You will also need to consider the upkeep of the monitor, are the accessories readily available and affordable? Are there extras you didn’t know you would need? For example, some monitors require additional water traps depending on the patient's size. Does the company you are purchasing it from provide a repair and service option that reduces downtime?

Making your decision

All these key considerations can help you make an informed purchasing decision for your practice. But we do understand that all these options can seem daunting. If you still need some guidance, why not go through this guide and make a list of each feature that is vital for your practice and give our experts a call? They will be happy to talk you through your options.

References: K Simpson, C Scales (2022): Upgrading or Investing? How to choose your multi-parameter monitor. Available from:

Our top pick for everyday patient monitoring of small animals:

The Edan X12 Multi-Parameter is an ultra-slim, compact patient monitor. The clear, tilted touchscreen allows easy viewing from all angles, with super sensitive touch response for quick and easy usability. Its comprehensive, yet uncomplicated, dashboard allows you to set viewable ranges and alarms, with a simple night mode option allowing less disruptive patient monitoring. Furthermore, the X12 has been developed with a focus on user-friendliness, making it easy to use and understand for all users, meaning less time spent on training and more time for patient care.

The Edan X12 Multi-Parameter Monitor covers a wide array of vital parameters, including ECG, NIBP, SPO2, Temperature, and Sidestream CO2. Setting it apart from most small animal multiparameter monitors, the Edan X12 offers a low side stream capnography sampling rate of just 50ml/minute - meaning your capnography traces and end-tidal carbon dioxide readings are more reliable for interpretation.

Our top pick for everyday patient monitoring of small animals and specialist patients such as exotics and equine:

The Vetronic Lightning Multi-Parameter with free software included.

A multi-parameter monitor built for ALL species. The Lightning is endlessly adaptable, growing with your practice for years to come.

With options that include ECG, CO2, Agent, Pulse- Oximetry, IBP, NIBP and Temperature, the Vetronic Lightning monitor delivers full monitoring performance in a robust, compact unit.

The Lightning is designed to suit your practice needs now and grow along with them, with the ability to be retrofitted with extra parameters as, and when, you require them. If cost is an issue, you can select the basic parameters you require right now, and then purchase additional parameters as it becomes financially sensible to do so. And you do not need to worry about this weighing your exceptionally light and portable monitor down. These parameters are all internal fittings, which we will fit for you in-house. Most of the standard parameters do not require extra plug-in hardware.

The Lightning software is not only extremely advanced in its capabilities, but it is also completely free, along with any future advancements or software updates, and it can be simply installed on any existing practice PC. The software consists of Vital Monitor and Vital Store. Vital Monitor is your live view of your patients’ parameters. Which is completely customisable depending on how you like to work. Unlimited pre-sets allow each member of staff to have the screen set up to their individual preferences at the click of a button.