Along with the typical treatments such as medications for pain management, there is also a variety of alternative treatments such as laser therapy. Our Thornton vets talk about veterinary laser therapy for dogs, when it is used and what the benefits are.
Veterinary Laser Therapy
Veterinary laser therapy is a fairly new method of treatment for symptoms related to various disorders and is most commonly used to help manage pain, inflammation, and wound healing for your pet.
The term laser refers to the focused emission of light that is capable of penetration. There are three forms of light that these lasers emit:
- Monochromatic: Light that is emitted in a singular wavelength as opposed to multiple.
- Coherent: Photons can be made up of light or electromagnetic radiation that travel in the same direction.
- Collimated: Photons that continuously travel in a single straight beam of light.
There are four classes of lasers currently identifiable based on their wavelengths:
- Class 1 lasers: are safe for daily use such as scanning devices.
- Class 2 lasers: produce visible light and are commonly used in laser pointers.
- Class 3 lasers: most common application is therapeutic lasers.
- Class 4 lasers: commonly used in surgical lasers that can cut and cauterize tissues.
What effect does veterinary laser therapy have on my pet?
Therapeutic lasers use light waves of a specific wavelength to alter the physiology of the affected tissues. The light emitted by these lasers throughout treatment will help to stimulate the cells within the tissues and allows for faster cellular regeneration.
The wavelength of the laser used will determine the tissue that can be affected. Most commonly used lasers emit near-infrared light with the use of lower wavelength lasers becoming more common. Low-wavelength lasers are used to treat areas near and involving the skin while the higher wavelength lasers are able to focus on deep tissue repair.
Some of the things that veterinary laser therapy can help with are:
- The release of endorphins
- Vasodilation can increase blood flow ultimately increasing oxygen and speeding up the healing
- Allowing the muscles to relax
- The ability to decrease inflammation
- Speed up healing and repair
What are the benefits of veterinary laser therapy?
There are many conditions and symptoms that veterinary laser therapy can help with, including:
- Chronic arthritis
- Surgical incisions
- Tendon and ligament injuries
- Traumatic injuries
There are some pets that experienced limitations that are unable to receive traditional treatment and may benefit from veterinary laser therapy, such as:
- Pets who suffer from liver disease leaving them unable to take commonly used medications
- Cats that are only able to use specific pain management medications
- Exotic pets that may not be able to have medications administered normally
- Older pets that are unable to be medicated due to decreased organ function
How is veterinary laser therapy used?
Pets typically find veterinary laser therapy to be relaxing as it involves the slow movement of a warm laser over the affected area. Each session may be roughly a half hour or less on average and the frequency and recommended number of treatment sessions will depend on the symptoms and severity.
Is veterinary laser therapy safe for cats & dogs?
When administered by a trained professional veterinary laser therapy is very safe. If used incorrectly there could be further damage to your pet. Protective eyewear should also be worn as the light emitted from the laser can cause damage to sight.
How often should my dog get cold laser therapy?
Over time, the effects of cold laser therapy are cumulative. For best results, treatments should be completed at the frequency recommended by your veterinarian.
How long does a cold laser therapy treatment last?
The length of sessions varies depending on the area being treated and how much energy is being delivered through the laser. A typical laser therapy session lasts between 5 and 20 minutes.
Before treatment, we will perform a full physical exam, in addition to x-rays if required, to determine whether cold laser therapy is the right treatment option for your pet.