Oxygen Therapy For Critically Injured Pets
Hyperbaric oxygen chambers are pressurised 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 such as 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 bloodstream, 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 in the USA, 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. They have treated rattlesnake bites, infected wounds, and animals hit by cars. Essentially any kind of problem that causes swelling of tissue is a potential candidate for the hyperbaric chamber.
Although there apparently isn’t much research on this type of treatment for pets, ironically, most of the research for human oxygen therapy is the result of studies on rats and rabbits.
Pets are usually comfortable and relaxed when in a Hyperbaric chamber
When 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 generally from 1 to 2 hours, and is usually repeated twice a day. Treatments will then continue until the veterinary sees a marked improvement. Once your pet is beginning to use the affected limb, or is gaining strength and function, the animal hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments are discontinued.
Because 100% oxygen is used animals need to be patted down with water before they go into the chamber so their coat doesn’t attract static electricity. So 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 your pet’s own ability to heal, which is always the goal.
By Zoe Vanderbilt B.Sc