Oxygen Therapy for Anemia in a Dog

Anemia is a dangerous condition for dogs.
Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been used for years on humans, and it's now a new and promising way to treat anemia in dogs, too. Anemia can be caused by either lingering disease or sudden blood loss, but either way it is highly dangerous to our closest companions. HBOT may give our dogs the precious time they need for a veterinarian to treat the underlying causes of their anemia.

Anemia Symptoms and Causes

Anemia, or low red blood cell count, is a condition that can have multiple causes. A dog with a severe injury may become anemic due to blood loss, while another may have hemolytic anemia, a condition where red blood cells are being destroyed inside the body. Nonregenerative anemia, by contrast, is caused by the body not producing enough red blood cells. Symptoms of anemia include pale gums, weakness, decreased appetite, lethargy, and faster breathing and heart rates. The condition can be very serious, and may even lead to shock and death if not treated quickly.

HBOT Therapy Explained

HBOT, or oxygen therapy, is a relatively simple process, although the equipment is expensive. The dog enters a chamber about the size of a small couch and lies down for one to two hours. During that time, the chamber is filled with up to three times the amount of oxygen normally found in the air. The increased oxygen in the air makes it easier for your dog's body to absorb this essential gas, which has a number of medical benefits.

Advantages of Oxygen Therapy for Anemia

More than 30 to 40 percent blood loss can lead to shock and death in your pet if she's not quickly given a blood transfusion. HBOT therapy can ensure she continues getting enough oxygen for the precious time it takes to obtain and type the blood for transfusion. The treatment also stimulates the stem cells and promotes healing on a cellular level, which may help your best friend recover from the injury or illness that caused her dangerous blood loss.

Other Potential Uses of HBOT Therapy

Vets are optimistic about the potential uses for HBOT in treating our beloved pets. HBOT may be useful in delivering crucial oxygen to blocked tissues in animals with sepsis infections, decreasing swelling from snakebites, preventing tissue death, preventing brain damage in dogs that have suffered head trauma or been resuscitated through CPR, speeding up the healing of large or difficult wounds, and many other applications. While the field of study is relatively new, results show that oxygen therapy has vast potential in treating our pets.