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Patching Up Wounded Puppies

CORVALLIS, OR (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- If your family dog got hurt, how much are you willing to spend to fix Fido? Consider that Americans will spend 47 billion dollars on their pets this year, and the answer is obvious. Now, some new science is proving that surgery doesn’t have to be the first option.

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Jerry Rice and his medic-alert dog Carrie are more than best friends.

"I'm diabetic, so she can alert on high or low spikes either way,” Rice told Ivanhoe.

Veterinarian Dr. Wendy Baltzer, from Oregon State University, lives to make those connections last.

At the Oregon State University, they teach that rehabilitation is just as important as surgery, and have found that sometimes surgery can be avoided with rehab.

“Anything you can do for humans, is pretty much possible for dogs and cats as well,” Dr. Baltzer said.

Kingston damaged his spinal chord during a one-story fall, but daily “runs” on an underwater treadmill inhibit pain and return normal function to his hind leg.

"If you don’t do these things, and do these exercises, then your body may never be able to ever fully recover" Dr. Baltzer said.

Rehabbing partially torn ACL ligaments is also a top job at Oregon State University. Americans spend more than a billion bucks on such surgeries each year for their dogs. While surgery starts at one thousand dollars, rehab often costs a few hundred, but it may take longer to see results.

"Basically you need to learn to walk again, you need to build muscle strength again." Dr.Baltzer said.

Rehab builds muscles around the torn joint to stabilize it. OSU uses a laser with “doggie goggles” to boost the cells ability to repair themselves. That results in faster-forming scar tissue, and stronger healing in tendons and bones.

Kingston, is amazingly slated to fully recovery.

“He was paralyzed from the waist down … and now today he’s walking.” Dr. Baltzer said.

Dr. Baltzer’s work shows pre-surgery laser therapy can promote faster post-surgery healing, however, therapeutic lasers are still being tested for effectiveness. 2010 is the 50th anniversary of the laser, which was first demonstrated in 1960.

The Optical Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:

Wendy I. Baltzer,
Department of Clinical Sciences, College of veterinary medicine
Oregon State University

Optical Society of America
Washington, DC 20036-1023
(202) 223-8130

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Prior Reports
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