Human Medical Treatment Brings New Hope to Critically Injured Pets
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been used in human medicine for years to treat a range of conditions including the bends, wounds that won’t heal, gangrene, burns, and even anemia.
- What happens with hyperbaric oxygen therapy is the lungs are able to gather up to three times more pure oxygen than is normally available, and blood flow delivers that oxygen throughout the body, stimulating the release of natural substances that promote healing.
- At the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the staff is using a hyperbaric chamber to treat a variety of animals with injuries and wounds that involve swollen tissue.
- A veterinarian in New York is using her chamber to speed healing in certain conditions including abscesses, post-radiation swelling and herniated discs.
- At the Animal Emergency and Referral Center in Ft. Pierce, Florida, pets lie on a soft blanket and nap while inhaling pure oxygen that goes to work immediately on wounds, swelling, burns, and other injuries/illnesses.
When your pet gets injured, whether it be from a near-drowning, being hit by a car or bitten by a snake, often what’s needed is a drastic treatment that can effectively reduce swelling and speed up the healing process. This comfortable, 1 to 2 hour treatment, now being offered in certain facilities, might be your pet’s best chance for recovery.
By Dr. Becker
Hyperbaric oxygen chambers are pressurized tubes, or in some cases rooms, where hyperbaric oxygen therapy is delivered. This technique has been used in human medicine for decades to treat a variety of conditions including air bubbles in blood vessels (arterial gas embolism), decompression sickness (“the bends”), carbon monoxide poisoning, wounds that won’t heal, crushing injuries, gangrene, a skin or bone infection that causes tissue death, radiation injuries, burns, skin grafts or skin flaps that can cause tissue death, and severe anemia.
In a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, the air pressure is up to three times greater than normal. This causes the lungs to collect up to three times more pure oxygen than is possible when breathing atmospheric oxygen. The pure oxygen is transported throughout the body via the blood stream, which encourages the release of growth factors and stem cells that promote healing.
Reduces Swelling and Speeds Healing in Animals
In Florida and a few other states, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is increasingly being used on pets.
The University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine has recently treated dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits and even a monkey with oxygen therapy. According to professor and DVM Justin Shmalberg, they have treated rattlesnake bites, infected wounds, and animals hit by cars. Essentially any kind of problem that causes swelling of tissue is a candidate for the hyperbaric chamber.
This summer, the school will begin clinical trials to determine if what they are seeing is “real” – that hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps reduce swelling and speed healing in animals. There isn’t much research on this type of treatment for pets, though ironically, most of the research for human oxygen therapy is the result of studies on rats and rabbits.
Dr. Diane Levitan, owner of a veterinary practice in New York, has a hyperbaric chamber in her facility and has seen improved rates of healing for certain conditions including abscesses, post-radiation swelling and herniated discs. Dr. Levitan is writing an article for a veterinary journal on her use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and agrees with Dr. Shmalberg that it’s important to establish the science behind the success of the technique for certain conditions. “It’s not a panacea,” says Levitan. “There are specific reasons why this is helpful.”
Pets are Comfortable and Relaxed During Treatment
The Animal Emergency and Referral Center in Ft. Pierce, Florida also has a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. They describe the treatment this way:
“Inside the chamber, pets lie on a soft blanket and rest or sleep while the oxygen goes to work on wounds, swelling, burns and other injuries or illnesses. The pets are comfortable and relaxed during dog/cat hyperbaric therapy treatment. The total HBOT treatment time is from 1 to 2 hours, and is usually repeated twice a day. Treatments continue until the doctors see a marked improvement. When your pet is beginning to use the affected limb, or is gaining strength and function, the animal hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments are discontinued.”
This facility uses oxygen therapy for patients with post operative swelling, snake bites, wounds and burns, head and spinal injuries, near-drowning or asphyxiation, and smoke inhalation.
‘About the Size of a Loveseat’
As you might expect, some (probably many) human insurance companies don’t cover oxygen therapy because it’s “unproven,” however, people who have had success with treatments will seek it out anyway. And the same is true for pet owners. They research the treatment and then seek it out for an ailing pet.
The equipment used at the University of Florida is “about the size of a loveseat.” The DVM who initially arranged for the equipment at UF estimates he’s used the chamber 750-800 times in the last 18 months and feels it is very effective for any kind of trauma.
Since most vet practices can’t afford to buy a chamber (equipment for humans runs between $50,000 and $150,000 each), the manufacturer actually gives the chambers to clinics and receives a percentage of each treatment done. Treatments run about $125 per session at the UF clinic.
The equipment can be dangerous to use because 100 percent oxygen is involved. Animals are patted down with water before they go into the chamber so their coat doesn’t attract static electricity and start a fire. Tragically, last year a hyperbaric oxygen chamber in a Florida equine veterinary center exploded, killing a staff member and the horse inside the chamber, and collapsing part of the building. Apparently, the horse hit the side of the enclosure with a foot, which caused a spark that set off the explosion.
Although this type of accident is incredibly rare, some veterinarians view hyperbaric therapy as a treatment of last resort. I don’t agree. With proper training, the hyperbaric oxygen chamber is as safe as any other veterinary treatment equipment, but without side effects. Inhaling pure oxygen in this manner triggers the body’s own ability to heal, which is always the goal.
April 27, 2013 - Posted by justonemorepet | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pets | Cats, dogs, Dr. Becker, Ferrets, hyperbaric oxygen chamber, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, rabbits monkeys
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Save a Life…Adopt Just One More…Pet!
Everyday we read or hear another story about pets and other animals being abandoned in record numbers while at the same time we regularly hear about crazy new rules and laws being passed limiting the amount of pets that people may have, even down to one or two… or worse yet, none.
Nobody is promoting hoarding pets or animals, but at a time when there are more pets and animals of all types being abandoned or being taken to shelters already bursting at the seams, there is nothing crazier than legislating away the ability of willing adoptive families to take in just one more pet!!
Our goal is to raise awareness and help find homes for all pets and animals that need one by helping to match them with loving families and positive situations. Our goal is also to help fight the trend of unfavorable legislation and rules in an attempt to stop unnecessary Euthenization!!
“All over the world, major universities are researching the therapeutic value of pets in our society and the number of hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and mental institutions which are employing full-time pet therapists and animals is increasing daily.” ~ Betty White, American Actress, Animal Activist, and Author of Pet Love
So if you have the room in your home and the love in your heart… Adopt Just One More Pet or consider becoming a Foster parent for pets… Also check out: Little Critter: Just One More Pet
Photos By: Marion Algier – The UCLA Shutterbug
There is always room for Just One More Pet. So if you have room in your home and room in your heart… Adopt Just One More! If you live in an area that promotes unreasonable limitations on pets… fight the good fight and help change the rules and legislation…
Save the Life of Just One More…Animal!
Recent and Seasonal Shots
As I have been fighting Cancer… A battle I am gratefully winning, my furkids have not left my side. They have been a large part of my recovery!! Ask Marion
Photos by the UCLA Shutterbug are protected by copyright, Please email at JustOneMorePet@gmail.com or find us on twitter @JustOneMorePet for permission to duplicate for commerical purposes or to purchase photos.
If you can adopt or foster just one more pet, you could be saving a life, while adding joy to your own! Our shelters are over-flowing… Please join the fight to make them all ‘NO-Kill’ facilities.
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If You Were Stranded On An Island…A recent national survey revealed just how much Americans love their companion animals. When respondents were asked whether they’d like to spend life stranded on a deserted island with either their spouse or their pet, over 60% said they would prefer their dog or cat for companionship!
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