What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

When used in conjunction with other preventative and treatment regimens, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can deliver anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial benefits, accelerating healing drastically, especially in conditions where the pet may be suffering from an oxygen deficit. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves placing the patient in a pressurized environment of pure oxygen. The higher ambient air pressure allows the body to absorb considerably more oxygen than under normal conditions. Hyperbaric chamber therapy allows oxygen to travel in the blood to the tissue most in need.

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. The first treatment is generally 30 minutes (to gauge how the patient will handle the therapy) with subsequent treatments being increased to one hour. The total number of treatments necessary varies according to the type of treatment and the patient’s response. For the safety and comfort of the patient, we generally have the pet parent join the patient in the hyperbaric chamber, although dependent on the size and temperament of the patient, we may be able to have them go in the chamber by themselves.

How does hyperbaric oxygen therapy work?

The pressurized environment allows for much greater absorption of oxygen, increasing the oxygenation of all organs, tissues, and body fluids. Breathing 100% pure oxygen outside the pressurized environment would not significantly increase oxygen uptake by cells. It is the pressurized environment itself that causes the blood plasma, and other fluids in the patient, to absorb much increased quantities of oxygen. We use hyperbaric oxygen therapy with the goal of seeing a 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 wound 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.

What is HBOT like for my companion animal?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is non-invasive, requiring little preparation or recovery time, and it is completely painless. The pressurized environment is large enough to hold at least one person and their pet most animals experience little or no anxiety, frequently falling asleep.

The hyperbaric chamber does oftentimes become warm, which we alleviate by providing ice packs and battery-operated fans to our clients and patients who go in the chamber.