Snakebite Study Underway

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Snakebites are a common problem for dogs, especially in the summer and fall months. The UTCVM Veterinary Medical Center is conducting a study involving the effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) on dogs bitten by snakes. HBOT is the use of 100% pressurized oxygen; it is used to improve the oxygen levels in blood and tissues, enhance the body’s antibacterial activity, and decrease inflammation.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy unit from Sechrist Veterinary Health.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy unit (photo courtesy of Sechrist Veterinary Health.)

The purpose of the study is to assess the effect of HBOT on local wound swelling, severity, and pain. All dogs receive the standard of care for a snakebite, including fluids and pain medications.

The most common type of snakebites treated at the veterinary medical center are from Copperheads, which tend to cause swelling, pain, and tissue death at the site of the bite. Some bites are very severe and can cause systemic illness, multi-organ failure, and even death.

The study is funded by Sechrist Industries, Inc.

In addition to the HBOT unit for small animals, the veterinary medical center has a unit in its large animal hospital, too.