A Rottweiler got fish skin grafts to treat burns it received from a fire.
Stella had second- and third-degree burns across 10 percent of her body when she first entered the emergency department at Michigan State University Veterinary Medical Center.
The 1-year-old female escaped a house fire in Lansing while her owners were away.
Among multiple other issues, she had respiratory problems from severe smoke inhalation.
“We had to get creative with her burns because of the significant trauma to Stella’s lungs,” said Brea Sandness, a veterinarian and surgical resident at MSU. “She wasn’t a great candidate for anesthesia because of her respiratory injuries.”
That’s when the surgical team turned to a less traditional method, using Icelandic descaled cod fish skins.
The makeup of the tissue and omega-3 fatty acids in cod skin are important for healing and regeneration. Cod skin has anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties.
“We were able to place them on her with minimal sedation, which not only allowed us to heal her without additional stress to her lungs, but improved the way her burns healed,” Sandness said.
The descaling of the cod skins stimulate the production of cells as well as becoming functional living tissue.
During the California wildfires, scaled tilapia grafts were used which act as more of an organic cover so the skin underneath heals itself.
For Stella, the descaled grafts were absorbed by her body as new tissue grew into the graft.
Today, Stella’s burns are healing well and she is back to being a relatively active pup.
Stella’s case will be presented at the Society of Veterinary Soft Tissue Surgery convention to help inspire discussions on using fish grafts in the future for animals who have experienced the same issue as Stella.
“Stella’s case is an inspiration, and her grafts have the potential to be a new and highly effective treatment tool in the veterinary profession,” Sandness said. “She’s a living example that the fire within her burned stronger than the fire that injured her.”