Ailing pets getting hyperbaric treatment

2013-02-26 21:37
A dachshund named Maggie is treated in a hyperbaric chamber for an infection and paw wound at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine, in Gainesville, Fla. (Tamara Lush. AP)

A dachshund named Maggie is treated in a hyperbaric chamber for an infection and paw wound at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine, in Gainesville, Fla. (Tamara Lush. AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Gainesville - Hyperbaric chambers have been used for decades to treat divers with the bends, burn victims and people with traumatic injuries, but in the US they're increasingly being used on ailing pets.

Doctors at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine have recently used an oxygen chamber on dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits and one monkey.

Veterinarian and professor Justin Shmalberg said the capsule has been used to treat animals that have been bitten by rattlesnakes, hit by cars and those with infected wounds, among other things.

"Any place we have swelling of tissue, we often are thinking about the hyperbaric chamber as something we could do to decrease that," he said.

Shmalberg said the chamber's high-pressure atmosphere of pure oxygen appears to help reduce swelling and aid healing time. He added that the school will begin clinical trials this summer to determine how - or even if - the hyperbaric chamber really is effective in speeding recoveries and healing animals.

There is little research on hyperbaric treatments and pets, although veterinarians who use the chambers note that most of the research for human hyperbaric treatments comes from trials done on rabbits and rats.

"We want to make sure there's really good science behind it," said Dr Diane Levitan, who owns Peace Love Pets Veterinary Care in New York State. "It's not a panacea. There are specific reasons why this is helpful."

Levitan has a hyperbaric chamber in her practice and is writing an article for a veterinary journal on the treatment. Like Shmalberg, she has seen an improved rate of healing for certain conditions such as herniated discs, abscesses and even post-radiation swelling.

In humans, insurance companies will pay for hyperbaric treatment for several conditions, including carbon monoxide poisoning, crush injuries and bone marrow infections, among other things. Some insurance companies won't pay for hyperbaric treatment for wounds or ulcers, saying that it's an "unproven" therapy - but some people swear by the treatment and seek out private clinics.

New modality

It's the same with pet owners; veterinarians with oxygen chambers say that people with sick pets often will often research the treatment and request it after becoming familiar with it through human medicine.

"It is a very new modality for treatment in veterinary medicine," said Dr Andrew Turkell of Calusa Veterinary Centre in Florida.

The devices used by UF, Levitan and Turkell are about the size of a loveseat and are manufactured by a company named Hyperbaric Veterinary Medicine. Turkell was the first doctor to sign a contract with Hyperbaric Veterinary Medicine, and estimates that he's used the chamber 750 - 800 times in the past year and a half.

"I find that it's really very effective for any kind of trauma," he said, adding that he's seen improvements in pets that have been hit by cars that have been subsequently treated in the chamber.

Wayne McCullough, the company's CEO, said that most veterinary offices can't afford to buy the capsules outright - chambers for humans cost between $50 000 and $150 000 each - so the company gives the clinics the chambers and then receives a cut on each treatment done by the veterinarian. At the UF clinic, treatment costs about $125 per session.

McCullough said that his employees deliver and train veterinarians on how to use the capsule. Working with 100 percent oxygen can be dangerous, which is why pets going inside the chamber are patted down with water before the treatment so their fur doesn't conduct static electricity and cause a fire.

In 2012, the high-oxygen chamber of a Florida equine sports medicine centre exploded and caused part of a building to collapse, killed a worker and the horse inside the chamber.

The machine that exploded wasn't one of McCullough's chambers; it was a larger contraption made for horses. The horse inside the chamber apparently struck the side of the machine with its foot, which caused the spark and fire. It underscored the potential danger of the capsules.

Dr Dorie Amour, the director of Emory University's wound care clinic, suggested that hyperbaric therapy in pets be a last-resort treatment. It "has to be a therapy used when there is no alternative. Or a therapy used for a very serious problem for which there hasn't been a solution."

Pet owners such as Mike Ray, the owner of Maggie, an 11-year-old dachshund with a gaping wound and recurring infection in her back paw, say they're willing to give it a try - and spend the extra money to do so at the University of Florida animal hospital.

Maggie has been through a handful of hyperbaric treatments, and Dr Shmalberg and Ray say they've noticed a difference after two sessions in the capsule. New fur is growing where raw flesh was once exposed.

"Whatever it takes, we're going do and we'll find a way to get it done," Ray said as he and his wife waited for Maggie to finish her oxygen therapy. "Because we need to get her healed."


- AP
Read more on:    us  |  animals
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

10 facts about swimming you didn't know

This will make you want to jump right into the pool.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Snors with a cause - creating awareness of male health
Inspiring: Rock climbing with just one leg
Watch! Skateboarders racing cyclists
Exciting new zipline for Cape Town!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R2100 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

TV Series – 2 for R299

Loads of hot titles to choose from. Shop now!

Hot offer: Up to 50% off irons

Save up to 50% on all Philips irons. While stocks last. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be doing the work and playing the game, but your innovative mind is on a far away planet planning the next big thing....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.