Dogs, Cats Rescued From California Camp Fire Heal With Fish Skins

Dr. Peyton applies fish skin as treatment for dog burned in the Camp Fire.
Dr. Peyton applies fish skin as treatment for dog burned in the Camp Fire.

Several burned dogs and cats at the VCA Valley Oak Veterinary Center in Chico are getting an unusual treatment to help them heal from injuries they suffered in the Camp Fire: fish skins. This is the first time sterilized tilapia skins have been used to treat burns on dogs and cats.

Jamie Peyton, chief of the Integrative Medicine Service with the University of California, Davis, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, volunteered to help VCA Valley Oak veterinarians when she heard about the hundreds of burned animals they were treating. So far, she’s applied the fish skins on the burns of four dogs and four cats.

Peyton first used the procedure on two bears and a mountain lion burned in the Thomas Fire in Ventura County in 2017. She also treated a bear cub burned in the Carr Fire this year.

“We’re trying to change burn care for animals,” said Peyton. “Tilapia skins act as a dermal substitute that provides pain relief and protection and helps these wounds heal better.”

Tilapia skin can transfer collagen, a healing protein, to the burned skin. It also reduces the need for frequent bandage changes, which can be quite painful for animals.

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