Science 2 min read

National Dog Day: 3D Printing Saves a Lucky Puppy at UC Davis

Veterinarians at UC Davis have successfully saved the life of a puppy with the help of 3D printing. | Image By Dan Rentea | Shutterstock

Veterinarians at UC Davis have successfully saved the life of a puppy with the help of 3D printing. | Image By Dan Rentea | Shutterstock

3D printing has already helped enhance animal healthcare and medical attention in many ways, now it’s directly saving lives.

3D printing has given us new spines, carbon fiber bike frames, and much more so far. But one lucky puppy got a new lease on life from specialists at UC Davis. In celebration of National Dog Day, we thought to examine this story a little more closely.

What other ways have 3D printing augmented the animal care industry?

3D Printed Cast Helps dog With Fractured Skull

If you’re like me, any story involving a cute animal and a happy ending is a good one.

A 4-month old puppy came to the UC Davis veterinary hospital with severe wounds after being attacked by another dog. Loca, the dog, required extensive reconstruction, as well as a cast for her fractured skull.

That’s where the 3D printing strategically comes into play.

Biomedical engineering students at UC Davis created the 3D printed exoskeleton you see in the video above. This acted as a cast for her skull and as a proof of concept for UC Davis.

Now dubbed the “Exo-K9”, this exoskeleton proved a viable component to facilitate maxillofacial injury healing for dogs. And yes — that means that little Loca made a full recovery and even got adopted by a UC Davis exchange student from Belgium.

But this isn’t the only way 3D printing improved veterinary science.

3D Printing Served Turtles and Other Animals Too

Apart from printing things like wheelchairs for animals with missing or unusable limbs, 3D printing serves other animals and veterinary care just as much as it serves humans.

Check out this duck taking his first steps with his new 3D printed foot. There’s also Fred, the tortoise, who got a whole new shell thanks to 3D printing.

Veterinarians in Tennessee also used 3D printed models in their pre-surgical practice and planning. The vets actually have an in-house facility specifically for 3D printing in order to better serve their needs “on the fly”.

But there are plenty of stories about various universities and places around the world adopting 3D printing in their animal care practices. As 3D printing becomes more and more democratized, so will all aspects of medicine for humans and animals.

How else can 3D printing deliver heart-warming stories like Loca’s?

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

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