Monday, January 15, 2018

Treating Pets With High Tech Veterinary Services

Weeks ago I mentioned that I had the pleasure of visiting a state of the art veterinary services clinic in Florida.  I promised to share more with you about that visit, especially the fascinating 3D Printing technology being used to treat pets at this veterinary clinic, so here it is! 

Pet parents are using Veterinary Specialists more and more for advanced pet veterinary care.   Dogs, Pet health, Advanced Veterinary care for pets
With Dr. Mark Walter, friends from Bayer Animal Health and a few of my pet blogger friends at Capital Veterinary Specialists in Jacksonville, Florida, opened in 2015 by Dr. Walker BVSc, DACVIM 

Dr. Walker opened Capital Veterinary Services, JAX , a specialty veterinary clinic in Jacksonville Florida, to serve Northeast Florida and South Georgia pet parents.  We loved meeting Dr. Walker and his compassionate, expertly trained staff!  It's easy to see their high level of expertise and feel their passion and love for the exciting work they do. 

Dr. Walker gave us a tour of this beautiful state of the art facility and some of the specialized veterinary equipment they use to help the pets that visit them for expert veterinary care and services, including:

🐶 Anethesia

As we were talking with Dr. Walker one of his staff doctors came into the exam room carrying this weird looking contraption.  I could not for the life of me figure out what it was!  If I can be honest, I'm embarrassed to say I thought it was some kind of machine used to repair a piece of equipment in the room!  I saw the spool of what looked like white wire at the top and I thought, is this Veterinarian going to repair something?!   Don't they have a maintenance guy for that?  He's a doctor for heaven's sake!

3D printers are being used more and more for advanced veterinary care for dogs, cats, and other pets.   Advanced veterinary services like imaging, hydro therapy for dogs, canine rehabilitation, advanced imaging, and other veterinary services for pet health
A 3D Printer being used to treat pet injuries at Capital Veterinary Specialists in Jacksonville, Florida

It's funny now to think of how perplexed we were, but this weird looking machine is actually a 3D Printer!  They use it at the clinic to treat pet's injured limbs or other bones.  I think we were all transfixed on this strange looking machine, trying to figure out exactly How they use a 3D printer to treat an injured pet's bone and exactly how it works.

The spool of white "wire" you see on top of the machine is actually the material used by the machine as it forms a precise replica of a pet's injured bone.  

3D printers are being used at this veterinary specialist clinic to treat pet injuries. A model of the pet's injured bone is made using the 3D printer to better assist the Veterinarian in treating the injured limb in dogs, cats, or other pets
Replica of injured pets' bones, made utilizing this 3D printer

Digital files are created from Images taken of a pet's injury, such as from an MRI or CAT scan.  These files can then be translated into a format the 3D printer can recognize and understand. 

The printer then prints out layer upon layer of the material to create a bone replica, based on digital files of the injured bone that have been sent to the printer.  

The materials used by 3D printers can vary; plastics, rubbers, etc. can be used.  One example of a material used is a plastic polyactic acid  (PLA) filament.  

Displayed on the table in the photo above are 3 model replicas that were created by the 3D printer, based on injured dog limbs.    

In the below photo you can see what the inside of a piece of 3D "printed" bone replica looks like.

The inside of a replica of a dogs injured limb, made using a 3D printer.  Veterinary specialists are using 3D printers more & more to help injured dogs, cats and other animals
View of the inside of a pet bone replica created using a 3D printer

The replica created by a 3D printer isn't actually placed inside the pet's body, it is used to form an exact replica of the injured limb or other skeletal body part.  This enables the Veterinarian to handle a model of the pet's injured body part to gain a better, more precise understanding of the injury prior to a surgical procedure.   

The material that will be placed inside the pet can be more precisely and accurately formed using the replica crated with the 3D printer.  The replica is used as a model to create and accurately form the piece of metal orthapedic material, or other material, that will be placed inside the pet's body.  Replicas created with a 3D printer can also be helpful in testing out multiple treatment options.  

It was so interesting to see a 3D printer and learn how it works, and how it can be used to improve treatment of skeletal injuries to pets!

In their Canine Rehabilitation Department, Capital Veterinary Specialists has both a hydro therapy tank and a swimming pool.  Both can be used for Canine Rehabilitation.  

In the hydrotherapy tank, dogs receive treadmill therapy,  where dogs walk on an underwater treadmill.  The buoyancy of the water helps the dog get a low impact treadmill workout.  This type of rehab therapy for dogs is becoming very popular with pet parents.

Hydrotherapy tank where this Veterinary Specialist used underwater treadmill therapy to help injured dogs in injury recovery

Canine rehabilitation focuses on improving postoperative outcomes for orthopedic, neurological and soft tissue surgical procedures.  

It is also used to treat nonsurgical diseases like osteoarthritis, canine athlete injuries, weight management and non surgical spinal injuries.  It's also useful for field trial and agility conditioning and strength training.

It's amazing how Veterinary services have become so advanced and specialized!  That makes me really happy knowing that such advanced therapies for treating pets are available.  I would do whatever it took to help my dogs recover from an injury or disease.  I know you would too!  

We had some really interesting conversation with Dr. Walker and some of his staff.  We talked about how they run their practice, the significant advancements that have been made in pet food over the years, and specialized veterinary medicine in general.

So many advancements have been made in specialized veterinary medicine, including the use of 3D printers to treat bone injuries to dogs, cats, and other pets
I'm glad so many advancements have been made in Veterinary medicine! 

As most of us know, in recent years many pet food companies have been consolidated into huge corporations, like Belgian company Mars Petcare.  What I didn't know is that similar to the health care community for humans, many veterinary providers are also being consolidated into larger corporations.

It was interesting to hear that corporations in the pet industry have acquired a large number of Veterinary services providers.  For example, Mars Petcare has acquired Banfield Pet Hospital, Veterinary Centers of America (VCA Animal Hospitals), and BluePearl Veterinary Partners.  They even own the Wisdom Panel Dog DNA test kit company.  

Just like in human medicine, consolidations abound! In case you're wondering YES! it's the same Mars company that makes M&M's, my personal fave, as well as Twix, Snickers, and other delicious candies, including the Mars chocolate bar of course! 

We'd like to say a giant THANK YOU to Bayer Animal Health and Dr. Mark Walker for making this visit to Capital Veterinary Specialists possible!  It was so educational, and really Fun meeting Dr. Walker and his talented veterinary staff!

On our trip to Jacksonville, we also had the privilege of visiting  K9s For Warriors where we learned how they are helping military Veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disability (PTSD).

Have you ever used hydro therapy for dogs or experienced 3D printing to treat a pet's injury?  Let us know in the comments!


  1. 3D printers are so amazing! I would love to see one in action.

  2. This is fascinating, and it must have been great to see this in person. Luckily I've never had a pet with an injury, but I would want it treated like this if I did!

  3. I'm glad to know more about 3D printers. I admit, I wouldn't have known what that machine is, and I didn't understand how they worked either. It looks like an amazing facility!

  4. Wow, what a great vet practice! That 3D printing machine is awesome! We haven't used hydro therapy or needed a 3D printer for our dog, but it's great to know that there are places out there that have these available.

  5. What a wonderful opportunity you had to visit and learn so much about the technology that is used today to help our pets! I believe 3D printers are going to do so much for both humans and pets when it comes to health care

  6. I love that veterinarians are advancing with technology. Just because I perform an alternative therapy doesn't mean I don't use every available option to help my pets! It is so cool to learn about the 3D printer. I had no idea!

  7. Wow, a 3D printer. I wouldn't have known what it was either - BUT HOW AMAZING! Sounds like you had such a great trip and the Capital Veterinary Specialists sounds like a truly wonderful place!

    P.S.: Are you going to BlogPaws? I finally bought my ticket about a week ago. Hope to see you there!

  8. Oh my goodness. Would you believe the only time I heard of 3D offers was on the magic show the Carbanaro Effect? The 3D printer feature is so interesting and remarkable how it's used to help ortho surgeons. It's amazing how technology can help pets in so many ways.

  9. That was the coolest thing ever, how lucky we got to see it. Sandra and Dolly

  10. I had the opportunity to see a 3D printer in action a few years back, but I never thought that it could be used by a veterinary clinic. It's wonderful to see it used in a medical setting to help pets who have been injured. I would imagine it's also a very helpful aid in showing a pet owner exactly how a pet's bone is broken and how it will be fixed.

  11. I'm thinking about taking a 3D printing class so it's interesting to see one in action. It's great how many advanced methods there are to treat pets these days.

  12. We can use 3D printers on print shops here but the price of basic ones is coming down all the time. Amazing.

    I have realised how amazing it could be to help with pet health and I am so jealous you got to see all this up close!

  13. I would love to see a 3D printer work WOW, this clinic looks amazing and would of course make a pet parent more comfortable knowing they are in good hands.

  14. That sounds like a wonderful and very informational trip! I was interested to see how they would be using the 3D printer, I was thinking it was going to be for making casts for broken or fractured bones but I guess it's a pretty similar idea. I'm so pleased that technology is developing to aid in help in different aspects of our lives like our pet's lives !!

  15. I find all the new advances in vet med very exciting and awesome. The only thing frustrating about that is that the more is possible, the more expensive treatments get, and the more guilt it generates when funds are short.

  16. WOW!!!!! I am SO impressed, amazed even! This is just pawsome!! Tech has come so far and I am so thankful for it! I never would have known what that machine was either lol. Thanks for writing about this!

  17. I have not seen a 3D printer before or known how it works. Thanks for providing those photos. I've been hearing about amazing things these machines can do.

  18. My husband actually owns a 3D printer! We got it to play with and create small projects, and I love seeing it used in veterinary care. Such exciting tech!

  19. This is so impressive! Imagine a few years ago 3D printers seemed like a novelty for people with too much money. Now it's being used in veterinary medicine. It is very exciting.

  20. Thanks for the pictures describing the 3D printer and the explanation of how they actually use the replicas. Veterinarians have greater expenses today with this newer equipment. It is no wonder that the larger corporations are behind these facilities. The single vet hospital may be a profession of the past.

  21. 3D printer technology is so fascinating. Lucky you getting to see it up close!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets