DAVIS (KPIX 5) — Some pets left behind in the Camp Fire but who survived with significant burns are receiving a unique treatment at one of the nation’s premier veterinary hospitals.
Doctors at UC Davis Veterinary Hospital are using raw fish skin as bandages over burns to help in the healing process.
“This is actually going to be a sort of fake skin, so it’s going to protect an open area that’s missing a piece of skin from a burn and provide protection,” said the hospital’s Chief Of Integrative Medicine Services Jamie Peyton.
The fish skin contains healing proteins called collagen which relieves pain and fights infection.
Olivia, a Boston Terrier mix, was lost in the fire for six days before police found her, severely burned in the ashes. Peyton and her team went to work, cleaning wounds, removing burned flesh from her legs, and applying the temporary fish skin.
A few weeks later, Olivia was back up and walking, scarred but alive. Owners Curtis and Mindy Stark said they weren’t home when the fire roared in. “Our house burned down. It’s all fenced in so she couldn’t have escaped until all the fences burned down,” said Mindy Stark.
Peyton uses skin from tilapia fish, originally from Africa. Tilapia is farmed all over the world, especially in Asia as a cheap food source. It’s now a promising new tool treating burn wounds.
Peyton says animals don’t always show their pain. “They’ll act like it doesn’t hurt, but we know it does and it’s our responsibility to make sure that we do the best we can to take care of that pain for them,” she said.
When the burn heals, the tilapia skin simply falls off. However, sometimes dogs will be dogs. “She ate part of it,” said Curtis Stark.
“Part of it, yeah. said Mindy Stark. “So, it’s high tech, and a snack.”