Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) for Diskospondylitis? Fred's Story

My regular readers know that I am a big proponent of alternative therapies, old and new. I am fascinated by what regenerative therapy can do; we used it more than once and couldn't say enough good things about it. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is one of the treatments that are on my radar. This story is based on a case study submitted to HVM. This is not a sponsored post.

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Fred is a 9-year-old Labrador mix who ended up at a veterinary specialty hospital because of his weight loss, stiff gait, abdominal pain and high fever. 


Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT): Fred's Diskospondylitis

The poor guy was not doing well at all. He underwent a battery of diagnostic tests and imaging, but none of the tests provided any answers. X-rays, ultrasound, blood work, testing for tick-borne diseases, bacterial infections ... nothing.

Fred received I.V. fluids, I.V. antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and pain meds but nothing helped to break his fever which remained between 103.5 and 105.5 °F!

That's when he was referred to a specialty hospital.


He was sent there for a neurological evaluation. But other than stiff gait and generalized pain, there were no positive findings. Fred then got an MRI which showed diskospondylitis.

What is diskospondylitis?


Diskspondylitis, aka vertebral osteomyelitis, is the inflammation of vertebral disks due to an infection caused by the invasion of bacteria or fungus. It is the most common cause of back pain in middle-aged to older large breed dogs.

Diskospondylitis should not be confused with diskospondylosis, a non-infectious fusion or degeneration of the bones of the back.

The infection causes inflammation which leads to swelling and bone deformities that compress the spinal cord. Interestingly, according to Dr. Karen Becker, this condition is most prevalent in areas that have a lot of plant awns such as foxtails. The theory is that as the awns carry the bacteria or fungi which they then transfer into the bloodstream as they pierce the skin.

However it got there, it was making Fred very ill.


Fred has already got an intensive medical treatment without improvement. Severe cases of diskospondylitis require surgery to relieve pressure, remove any infected tissue and fluid or even to remove a portion of the affected bone.

Fred's veterinarian decided to administer hyperbaric oxygen therapy.


The HBOT therapy was in addition to existing medical treatment which they left alone. Fred's consistent fever resolved within 3 hours after the HBOT treatment! He then was treated with this therapy for two more weeks. He has gained 10 pounds, returned to his happy self and his fever has not returned.

You can read Fred's case study and others on hvm website.

Needless to say that HBOT therapy remains high on my radar.


Back when Jasmine suffered from her neck issues, I wondered whether HBOT could have helped her. We didn't have it available in Canada then. I am happy to see that there is at least one location that does that now, Alta Vista Animal Hospital in Ottawa.



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Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is an award-winning guide to help you better understand what your dog is telling you about their health and how to best advocate for them. 

Learn how to see and how to think about changes in your dog’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Some signs that might not trigger your concern can be important indicators that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Other symptoms, while hard to miss, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, are easy to spot but can have a laundry list of potential causes, some of them serious or even life-threatening. 

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8 comments

  1. Wow! I never heard of Diskspondylitis before. It sounds so painful. I was even more shocked to learn that HBOT treatments were so successful in such a relatively short amount of time. That's fantastic. Fred's got his quality of life back! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Does sound very painful. Yes, it is an encouraging story.

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  2. I think the most frightening part of having pets is not knowing for sure what ails them. We have to be super attentive to "normal" behavior so we can spot what is not on target! I am so glad that Fred got the help he needed! I have no idea if this is available in my area or not but I am so happy to know of it should we never need it. Paws crossed we do not!

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    1. Yes, understanding what is and isn't normal is important. Though a diagnosis still might be quite a challenge at times.

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  3. Sophie's litter mate had a severe case of pancreatitis and his vet treated him with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. I don't know what, if any other treatments they tried, but fortunately he recovered and is just fine now.

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    1. Awesome; yes, I read some pancreatitis case studies. I'd love it if you wanted to share the story here.

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  4. I have not heard of HBOT. I'll have to find out more. It sounds like a great treatment. I'm very happy Fred recovered so quickly after his treatments.

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    1. It's been a few years now since I've heard about it the first time. I regret it wasn't available anywhere within reasonable distance when Jasmine was suffering from the multitude of health issues at the end; at least some of them might have been helped by this treatment, I believe.

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