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'We Made Little Spring Rolls With Their Feet.' These Bears Are Getting Special Treatment for Their Wildfire-Burned Paws

'We Made Little Spring Rolls With Their Feet.' These Bears Are Getting Special Treatment for Their Wildfire-Burned Paws
From TIME - January 25, 2018

(SAN FRANCISCO)Veterinarians successfully used alternative medical treatments such as acupuncture on three wild animals burned in the Southern California wildfires, although one patienta 5-month-old mountain liondid keep eating his fish-skin and corn-husk bandages, vets at the University of California, Davis said Wednesday.

Rescuers brought two adult bears, one of them pregnant, and the young mountain lion to veterinarians with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the university after the animals were hurt in the largest wildfire in state history. They were found in the Los Padres National Forest, whose mountains stretch through badly burned areas of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

The bears had suffered third-degree burns on all their paws, said Jamie Peyton, chief of the Integrative Medicine Service at the universitys vet school. The cub also burned all four paws.

Standard pain treatment is a problem for both the animals and their caregivers when it comes to wildlife with sharp teeth and claws, Peyton said. For safety, vets have to heavily sedate the animals every time they change their bandages or otherwise care for them.

You can only anesthetize them so many times, Peyton said. Its hard on them. We cant do that to them every day.

Putting pain pills in food also is problematic, because theres no guarantee the animals will eat them, Peyton said.

Instead, Peyton and her colleagues used some of the alternative methods she already employs with other animals, including acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, and cold-laser therapy. Many health-insurance companies consider some of the treatments experimental or unproven, and do not always cover their costs in human patients.

Vets carried out the alternative treatments only on days when the bears and mountain lion were already anesthetized for bandage changes or other standard care.

I adore them, but theyre wild, Peyton explained.

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