Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy – An Effective Treatment for Pets


Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is being increasingly used for the treatment of family pets suffering from infected wounds and swollen tissues. For decades, hyperbaric oxygen chambers have been employed for the treatment of divers suffering from the bends, individuals with traumatic injuries and burn patients. However, in Florida and some other states, the therapy is being employed to treat ailing family pets.

Doctors in the “College of Veterinary Medicine” of “University of Florida” have employed an oxygen chamber recently on a monkey, rabbits, ferrets, cats and dogs. Professor and veterinarian, Justin Shmalberg, stated that the capsule was used for treating animals, which had infected wounds, were hit by cars and bitten by rattlesnakes. He says that if we have tissue swelling at any place, hyperbaric chamber is often thought to reduce it.

How HBOT Helps in Treatment of Pets:

According to Shmalberg, the high-pressure environment of oxygen inside the chamber seems to help in reducing the swelling and aiding healing time. Little research has been done on hyperbaric treatments on pets, however, veterinarians using the hyperbaric chambers outline that most research on hyperbaric treatments for humans, comes from the trials conducted on rats and rabbits.

We want to make sure there’s really good science behind it,” noted Dr. Diane Levitan, owner of “Peace Love Pets Veterinary Care” at Commack in New York. Levitan’s practice place has a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, and she is penning down an article about the treatment for a popular veterinary journal. Like Shmalberg, Levitan has noticed an improved healing rate for specific conditions like post-radiation swelling, abscesses, and herniate discs.

In case of humans, expenses for HBOT are given by insurance companies for a number of conditions, such as bone marrow infections, crush injuries, carbon monoxide poisoning, and some others. Some of the insurance companies do not pay for HBOT for ulcers or wounds, stating that it is an “unproven” treatment. However, there are some people who have great confidence in the effectiveness of the treatment and go to private clinics. There are many clinics and non-profit organizations like International Hyperbarics Association that provide HBOT treatment.

The same goes with several pet owners. Veterinarians providing HBOT report that people having sick pets often research about the therapy and then request it for their pets, after they become familiar with the treatment.

It is a very new modality for treatment in veterinary medicine,” stated Dr. Andrew Turkell, “Calusa Veterinary Center”, Boca Raton. Turkell said that he finds HBOT to be really quite effective for trauma of any type. He added that he has found improvements in the condition of pets, which have suffered hits by cars, and have undergone subsequent treatment in hyperbaric chamber.

However, veterinarians need to be trained on how the hyperbaric oxygen chamber should be used. It can be dangerous to work with 100% oxygen. That’s why, the pets that go within the chamber need to be patted down using water prior to the treatment, so that the fur of the pets doesn’t conduct any static electricity. This is a step taken to eliminate any risk of fire.

Although rarely, but fire accidents have occurred earlier with hyperbaric chambers, so the necessary precautions must be taken while operating the chamber.

Dr. Dorie Amour, director of the wound care clinic of Emory University, suggested HBOT therapy in pet treatment when all the alternatives fails. Or, it should be the treatment employed for some very serious issue, for which no solution has been there.

Mike Ray, owner of Maggie, a dachshund of 11 years, states that he wants to give HBOT a try and bear the extra expenses necessary, at the animal hospital in University of Florida. Maggie has a recurring infection and a wound in the back paw. Maggie has undergone a few hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments. Ray and Dr. Shmalberg state that they have seen a difference in the condition of Maggie after two sessions of HBOT. They found new fur to be growing at the area that exposed raw flesh once.

As Ray and his wife were waiting for Maggie to complete the HBOT, he stated that they were ready to do anything to get Maggie healed.

Chloe Paltrow
Chloe Paltrow, a medical assistant. She has shared her knowledge in various websites and blogs like PsychCentral, Collective Evolution and Pick The Brain. Currently, she is studying how brain injury and brain disorders can be treated with hyperbaric chambers.