Hyperbaric Veterinary Medicine

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) was once a highly scrutinized modality exclusive to human medicine.  Today, HBOT has not only become a very well recognized treatment for human indications, but for animals as well.


Both large and small veterinary facilities across the globe now have their very own hyperbaric chambers engineered exclusively for treating animals.  Even well-known universities like LSU, University of Florida and Auburn University now have veterinary hyperbaric chambers in their schools of veterinary medicine.  Although, there are currently less than 100 of them in the United States, so there may or may not be one within driving distance from your home.  However, there have been documented cases of animals with snakebites or burns that have been transported many miles out of their area so the life-saving treatment could be administered.  And yes, it can be life saving, especially if the admitting facility has done all they can with the resources at their disposal.

One such case took place in Bradenton, Florida where two dogs got into a fight with a rattlesnake in their front yard.  Both were bitten on the face, and both received antivenin.  However, the antivenin alone was not enough to reverse the inflammation or heal the wounds.  Both dogs spent about a week receiving HBOT Treatments from the nearest chamber-equipped facility in Sarasota, FL, and now both dogs are completely recovered.  The HBOT treatments were literally referred to as “life-saving,” in the article:  http://www.wtsp.com/life/animals/dogs-survive-rattlesnake-attack/264943814/

As HBOT garners more stories of interest like this one in the media, there will be more of a demand for local veterinarians to have the ability to administer the treatments.  Along with more demand comes more usage, and of course more risk for accidents.  When the proper training and equipment is utilized, HBOT is actually one of the safest, non-invasive and painless forms of healing that exist in medicine today. 

Though, just like an MRI, X-ray machine or a laser, the veterinarian or technician must be properly trained on the hyperbaric chamber or injury could occur to the patient and/or operator.

It’s up to pet owners to research if the veterinary facility is using a dedicated veterinary hyperbaric chamber or simply repurposing an older human one.  Also, is the chamber made out of steel or acrylic?  Acrylic can be compromised over time by scratches from animals’ claws.  Has the staff been properly trained by a CHT-V (Certified Hyperbaric Technologist-Veterinary)?  These are all factors that need to be considered before allowing your pet to receive HBOT Treatments. 

Fortunately, there is a non-partisan entity where pet owners can go to find the closest veterinary facilities equipped with a hyperbaric chamber and also if that facility has received training that meets the highest suggested safety standards.  The Veterinary Hyperbaric Medicine Society (VHMS) is dedicated to providing safety standards, treatment guidelines and information on certification for veterinary professionals specifically in the area of veterinary hyperbarics.  www.vhbot.org


Currently, the company that has the most veterinary-specific chambers placed and with VHMS approval is Hyperbaric Veterinary Medicine (hvm).  They have also been operating in the field of veterinary hyperbarics the longest, since 2011.  However, as the success stories from Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy continue to pile up over the next few years, there may be more companies looking to “cash in” by offering their version of veterinary-specific chambers.  As always, it’s up to pet owners to do the research and make sure the chamber at their veterinary facility is engineered with animal safety as the prominent factor in its conception and construction.