The UF Small Animal Hospital is one of the few academic veterinary institutions to offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Although hyperbaric oxygen therapy is available and used worldwide in human medicine, with many scientific publications reporting beneficial effects for human diseases and in animal models, its use in veterinary medicine is relatively new, occurring primarily during the past decade. Hyperbaric chamber technology is being used by a small number of veterinary practices and an even smaller number of academic institutions throughout the US.
During veterinary hyperbaric oxygen therapy the patient is placed safely and comfortably in a large chamber with 100% oxygen at pressure 1.5 to 3 times that of normal atmospheric pressure. Treatments may last from 1 to 2 hours and are given1 to 3 times daily with at least 4 hours between sessions. Most patients appear calm and relaxed during hyperbaric oxygen therapy (many even fall asleep!) The total number of treatments necessary varies according to the type of treatment and the patient’s response.
Generally hyperbaric oxygen therapy results in reduction in swelling, stimulation of new blood vessel formation into the healing/swollen tissue, a reduction in pressure caused by head or spinal cord injuries, improved would healing, and improved infection control. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be of great help to veterinary patients by speeding up the healing process and may reduce or eliminate the need for more invasive procedures such as surgery, oftentimes resulting in a net savings of time and cost of treatment for pet owners.
Some of the Conditions That Benefit From Veterinary Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
- Swelling – post operative, crush injuries, snake bite, burns
- Trauma – internal, head, spinal cord
- Smoke Inhalation
- Carbon Monoxide Toxicity
- Intervertebral disc disease
- Non-healing wounds, particularly external wounds where there are concerns about blood supply
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