Sometimes tragedies occur that affect both humans and animals. A house or building fire is one of those tragedies. Dermal or skin burns are commonly associated with fires, however some often overlooked injuries are pneumonia secondary to inhalation of particles deep into the lungs, thermal burns to the airway lining from breathing in the superheated gases, smoke inhalation, and corneal damage (injuries to the outer surface of the eyes).
There are many potentially toxic components to smoke, including carbon monoxide. There are many plastics and other materials that when burned emit toxic fumes. Carbon monoxide competes with the hemoglobin in the red blood cells of the body and decreases the ability for adequate oxygen to be delivered to the tissues of the body. Supplementation with 100% oxygen helps eliminate carbon monoxide from the body faster than room air.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a technology that delivers 100% oxygen at higher pressures that helps eliminate carbon monoxide even faster from the body. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy also decreases inflammation in the body, helps improve wound healing from dermal burns, helps improve oxygen delivery to damaged tissues, and helps stimulate the body’s own stem cells to promote healing. Treatment in the hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber helps pets with dermal burns, carbon monoxide and smoke inhalation and corneal injury. The Animal Emergency and Referral Center has a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber available by veterinary referral. Please discuss with your primary care veterinarian if your pet is a candidate for hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
-Jessica Diaz, DVM