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Posted on Thu, Mar 7, 2013 : 6 a.m.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy showing promise in veterinary medicine

By Lorrie Shaw


Flickr photo by yukari*

Veterinary medicine has made great strides in recent years — from identifying and addressing pain better in animals, managing chronic disease, surgery and more.

Much of that progress has come from experience in human medicine, and when situations arise where traditional treatment isn't working, researchers and clinicians have decided to think outside the box a bit.

There has been some controversy about using some approaches to achieving wellness in humans and then using it on animals -— like acupuncture, pulsed signal therapy and massage — but as many of you know first hand, these modalities have been used with great success.

Another area of veterinary medicine is getting some attention lately, and one vet school is demonstrating that, despite its unusual nature, it's proving to be beneficial.

Doctors at the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine have recently used a hyperbaric chamber on dogs, cats, ferrets and other animals to address situations like snakebites, injuries from being hit by a car and wounds that won't heal.

Oxygen chambers are showing promise in reducing swelling and speeding up the healing process. In fact, as one veterinary professor tells it, the school will start clinical trials soon to see how effective using hyperbaric therapy can be, if at all.

“Any place we have swelling of tissue, we oftentimes are thinking about the hyperbaric chamber as something we could do to decrease that,” says Justin Shmalberg, DVM, and Clinical Assistant Professor of Integrative Medicine at UF.

Although this treatment isn't widely used in private offices, it's starting to catch on.

A small number of clinicians have incorporated hyperbaric treatment in their practices for their most critical cases.

“I find that it’s really very effective for any kind of trauma,” notes Dr. Andrew Turkell, a veterinarian in Boca Raton, Fla.

The cost for a lot of pet owners seems to be manageable: for example, a treatment session at UF runs about $125.

Using the chambers doesn't come without its dangers. Since 100 percent oxygen — which is very combustible — is being used, pets need to be patted down with water to mitigate any static electricity before entering the chamber.

Click here to read more about the topic on the Washington Post.

Lorrie Shaw leads the pets section for and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. Shoot her an email, contact her at 734-904-7279 or follow her adventures on Twitter.



Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

Another great article! Always enjoy reading the latest installment. Yer pal, SG ;-)

Lorrie Shaw

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 : 3:09 a.m.

saline_gunslinger, Was glad to hear from you! The doggies are most grateful for your generosity; a full belly is an awesome gift. Good on you! What a good feeling to have helped another living thing. The world needs more people like you. We do need to catch up - looking forward to that, most certainly! Take good care and lots of positive thoughts and energy are being sent your way in the meantime. :-) ~ L


Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

I appreciate your kind words as well. Just wanted to check in and let you know I'm still "here." We'll catch up soon, as soon as I get some stuff sorted out. On a topic-related note, I made a trip to HVHS and dropped off a few bags of dog food for the cause. I did NOT go looking at the puppies though...too easy to get attached ;-) TTFN. I'll be in touch.

Lorrie Shaw

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 11 p.m.

saline_gunslinger, Thank you, thank you!! What can I say... I have always appreciated your interaction and you've always offered insightful dialogue just the same. I'm just so grateful that you reached out. Your comment means an awful lot. Happy Friday to you! ~Lorrie :-D