Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT): Jack's Spider Bite

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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When your dog starts limping or favoring a leg, the first what comes to mind is a musculoskeletal problem. Joints, muscle injuries ... it isn't always so.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT): Jack's Spider Bite

Twice one of our dogs had a severe limp which had nothing to do whatsoever with the musculoskeletal issues. Cookie had a severe hind limb lameness as a result of a remnant porcupine quill fragment in her foot. JD was very grumpy and lame after he banged-up his leg and it got infected. A friend's dog, Tosha, looked as if she injured her cruciate ligament until it turned out she was bitten by a snake.

Which brings us to Jack's story.


Jack was a 5-year-old Chocolate Lab, true to his breed. Full of life and energy. When an active dog like that becomes lethargic, you notice. When a dog like that starts limping, you think he must have overdone it.

Jack looked poorly enough that his parents brought him to a vet.


Jack's right leg had a small, painful swelling on the thigh. The veterinarian didn't think much of it, perhaps he saw many dogs like JD who ran into something and ended up with a bit of an infection. Jack was sent back home with pain meds and an antibiotic, just like JD was.

Unlike JD's leg, though, Jack's leg was not getting better.


It was getting worse. By the end of the week, the whole leg was swollen and painful. That is one of the reasons I liked how Jasmine's vet would always provide an expected timeline for improvement. You knew what to expect and how things should be progressing. And if they weren't going in the right direction, you knew to call back.

Jack's leg certainly was not supposed to keep getting worse in spite of the treatment. It was a mystery, and Jack was referred to a specialty hospital.

Jack's leg was in such bad shape, he was hospitalized.


The swelling was spreading to his flank. Jack was put on IV fluid and antibiotics, and his pain needed aggressive treatment. But things kept getting worse. The swelling continued spreading, now even over to the left hind leg. Jack was in serious trouble.

The only reasonable explanation for what was happening at this point was envenomation, most likely a black widow spider bite, severe infection or cancer.

It was time to discuss amputation to try and save Jack's life.

That's how much trouble Jack was in. He could die.

That day, Jack was referred to a Holistic Veterinary Care for hyperbaric oxygen therapy as a last resort before having to amputate. The swelling was getting worse before their eyes. There was so much built up fluid, Jack's foot was dripping bloody fluid.

Jack was given hyperbaric oxygen therapy.


He got two treatments on the first day. By the next day, Jack's right leg was visibly less swollen, and the swelling was retreating from the other areas. By day three, the swelling on the right leg went down, revealing a large abscess at the bite site. The hospital drained the abscess and installed a drain.

Jack didn't need any more oxygen therapy. A week later he came in to have the drain removed. By then, there was only some swelling of the right leg.

Three weeks after his ordeal started, Jack was again feeling great. He still had to take his antibiotics but needed only minor pain management. Jack was going to make a full recovery.

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



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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. 

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is a dog health advocacy guide 101. It covers a variety of common symptoms, including when each of them might be an emergency. 

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20 comments

  1. So Jack was bitten by something? Poor bud. That is awesome that they were able to save his leg though! Thank you for sharing this story.

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  2. I'm glad that Jack made a full recovery! How frightening! It is also a little mind boggling that oxygen therapy can help with a spider bite. I really don't understand how it worked, but it is awesome that it did!

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    1. It must have been absolutely horrifying; talk about amputation or death ... I assume that the way it worked was by helping to wade off the infection mainly; I have some articles about the hbot on the blog.

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  3. That must have been so very scary for Jack and his peeps. Yeah, spiders can be nasty. I keep well away from them, myself, even if we don't have poisonous ones here in Nova Scotia. purrs

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    1. I can't even imagine--so horrific. We only potential have Brown Recluse up here but that's nothing to desire either.

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  4. It is so sad when our pets get injured or sick. I am glad Jack was given the correct therapy and veterinarian attention to bring him to be healthy again. It is also good to know hyperbaric technology can be used for pets.

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    1. I hate it where there is anything wrong with my dogs, however little. Not to mention something serious. I think dogs should be exempt from any disease or injury.

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  5. I'm so glad Jack's family opted for holistic health! I love reading a success story. I'm currently doing acupuncture and herbs with Lola.

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    1. Isn't that just amazing what the hyperbaric oxygen could do?

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  6. I am so happy he recovered and is back to his normal self as that must have been frightening for the whole family, a nightmare. I watch Layla carefully and if she is acting out I will always check her first and then start making a list of all the what have we done that day although normally she springs back to herself phew

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    1. You can't always prevent everything unless you kept your dog in a bubble. I did consider that ... but Cookie wouldn't be too impressed with that.

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  7. My sister was going to head up some hyperbaric oxygen training for a company but backed out when our mother became ill. So glad that Jack recovered after having this treatment. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. That's pretty exciting; I'm sure she'll have another chance?

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  8. I'm so glad they were able to save Jack's leg and that he made a full recovery. It is so frustrating when the vet can't find out what is wrong. I had that happen once when my vet thought my dog had severe arthritis and it was osteosarcoma. Getting several opinions is a must - it's well worth the cost. I will have to find out more about hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

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    1. It saved his leg and probably his life. There is no telling whether the amputation would have been curative considering the state he was in.

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  9. I'm so glad Jack made a full recovery and found a treatment that worked for him! That must have been such a scary experience! Always good to know vets are researching and finding new treatments!

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    1. I think I'd gone mad if this happened to my dog.

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  10. That is so interesting! I would never have considered that either - I'm so glad you had a holistic vet nearby who could help!

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    1. It seems to be one of those "nearly miracle" therapies with great potential.

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