HBOT Treats Canine Diskospondylitis: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Infection of Intervertebral Disks—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.


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.

HBOT Treats Canine Diskospondylitis: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Infection of Intervertebral Disks—Fred's Story

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.

Related articles:
Veterinary Highlights: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Goes To The Dogs

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