Hyperbaric Chambers Helping Treat Animals Across South Florida

Once the locks are tight and oxygen is flowing, 13-year-old Kona pants quietly, ready for her treatment to begin.

The German Shepard mix sits safely inside a hyperbaric chamber at the Calusa Veterinary Center in Boca Raton. For Kona and many other pets, the chamber may be their best remedy.

"He's beating the odds right now. Normally it's three months. He's doing well, he's tough," said Anthony Lasala, dog owner.

Lasala said it's worked for his 3-year-old German Shepard, Garner. His pup suffers from a deadly fungal infection that is hard to diagnose.

Lasala said 60 hyperbaric treatments have kept Garner alive.

"There is no cure for it. We've seen it go up and down, he gets good oxygen flow to his tissue and it turns pink and looks healthier after a session. That's certainly helped and it hasn't spread," he explained.

Dr. Andrew Turkell built the chamber five years ago. This is how it works: inside the animals breathe 100 percent oxygen under pressure, that pressure forces the oxygen into the liquids of its body through plasma.

"There is a higher concentration of oxygen in the plasma. It is delivered to tissues in the entire body that might not be able to get a blood supply because there is a blockage or a wound," Dr. Turkell said.

Injuries like burns, cuts, swelling and even stroke can start to heal through multiple sessions. The chamber essentially turns oxygen into a drug that can save lives. Each treatment costs about $185.

There are 50 hyperbaric chambers in the United States, with the highest concentration in Florida. This was one of the first ones, and it's getting a lot of use.

7 to 8 dogs suffering from different diseases can be treated there every day, 45 minutes at a time.

"They're all very different, same treatment, and they'll all benefit the same way," Dr. Turkell said.

The science behind it is 1,000 years old, but quickly becoming a popular antidote for our furry friends.

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