One Veterinarian Is Using Fish to Help Treat Pets Burned by California Wildfires

PetMD Editorial
Published: December 14, 2018
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The aftermath of the most recent California wildfires has been difficult for humans and animals alike. Many of the animals injured by the wildfires are dealing with second- and third-degree burns on their paws, legs and stomachs.

Dr. Jamie Peyton, DVM, DACVECC, chief of Integrative Medicine Service at the University of California, Davis, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, has volunteered to help by offering a new, innovative way to help pets and animals heal from significant burn injuries.

American Veterinarian explains, “According to Dr. Peyton, there is no established standard of care for treating burns in animals.” Dr. Peyton adapted a method utilized by a Brazilian medical team who use the skins of fish to help facilitate the healing of burns.

Dr. Peyton and her team have found that fish skin can transfer collagen to the burned skin, which helps speed up the healing process. And as American Veterinarian explains, “Unlike gauze and other bandage material, fish skins are harmless if eaten by animals, and they can be left on for up to 2 weeks, avoiding painful bandage changes.” They can be applied in three different ways depending on the need and comfort of the affected animal.

The idea of using tilapia skins on burn patients has been successful in treating burns in eight different animal species. Dr. Peyton has been using this treatment for the animal victims of the California wildfires and is seeing similarly successful results.

One such patient is Olivia, an 8-year-old Boston Terrier mix. She was found with second-degree burns on her side and legs and was brought to VCA Valley Oak Veterinary Center in Chico, California for treatment. Her owners agreed to give the Tilapia skin treatment a try, and the results speak for themselves.

American Veterinarian reports, “New skin grew on Olivia’s leg burn within 5 days—a process that normally takes weeks. Before the tilapia treatment, Olivia was clearly in pain, but she soon returned to her old self, said her owner, Curtis Stark. ‘It was a day and night difference.’”

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