Laser therapy is the use of specific wavelengths of light (red and near-infrared) to create therapeutic effects. These effects include improved healing time, pain reduction, increased circulation and decreased swelling.
Laser therapy has been widely used in Europe since the 1970’s. In 2002, the FDA approved its use in the United States, and it has become a popular means of treatment for a variety of pet conditions.
This type of therapy can help with osteoarthritis, joint pain, puncture wounds, post-surgical pain, neck and back pain, hip dysplasia, burns, chronic wounds and more. All types of pets can be benefit from laser treatments (dogs, cats, exotics and pocket pets).
The clinical effectiveness of laser therapy has been well documented through numerous studies. Infrared light has extraordinary healing properties. Its effect is photochemical rather than thermal, as in surgical lasers. Class IV lasers, such as the K-laser which is used at our hospital, is the most powerful laser available on the market.
The normalization of cellular function is the foundation of why infrared light is so effective. The treatment is safe and painless for the pet. No sedation is required. One treatment takes between three to eight minutes, and there is little or no sensation for the pet. At most, the pet may feel a warm sensation in the treatment area.
During the treatment, laser energy increases circulation, thereby drawing water, oxygen and nutrients to the affected area for enhanced healing. Your pet will experience reduced inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness and pain.
Even though your pet may show signs of improvement after only one visit, we typically recommend a series of treatments because the effects are cumulative. Depending on the condition of the pet, treatment plans will vary and may span a one to four week period. Most chronic conditions require treatments every other day for one week, then twice the second week, twice the third week, and once the fourth week.
The following beneficial effects of Class IV laser therapy on cells and tissues have been shown through clinical trials and studies of laser therapy technology:
- Accelerated tissue repair and cell growth
- Faster wound healing
- Reduced fibrous tissue formation
- Anti-pain (Analgesic)
- Improved vascular activity
- Increased metabolic activity
- Improved nerve function
- Trigger and acupuncture points
Laser therapy is often recommended in conjunction with other forms of therapy such as massage, chiropractic and soft tissue mobilization. These other healing modalities are complementary and can increase the effectiveness of the overall treatment plan.
We often recommend this drug free, surgery free and pain free solution to accelerate the healing process. It is especially effective with an older pet who has hip dysplasia, back problems, or has had knee or other orthopedic surgeries. We have seen 14+ year old dogs who could barely walk and are later able to start doing things they haven’t done in years just after a few treatments.
If your pet is on chronic medications that can stop working or affect their kidneys or liver, laser therapy is a great way to help them. You may notice it helps more when used together with medication. We may be able to reduce or even get them off these chronic medications completely after starting laser therapy treatments.
We highly recommend Class IV laser therapy and are happy to consult with clients with regard to its use as a healing modality. Lots of pets with chronic conditions can be maintained with a monthly maintenance treatment as part of their pain management long term plan.
CASE STUDY: Laser Therapy Treatment, Bite Wounds on Dallas the Goat
(Warning: Graphic photos – Before and After Laser Therapy Treatment)
Dr. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital