March 17, 2017

General Holistic Treatment

Laser Therapy – a valuable treatment option in veterinary care

by Aili V. Heintz, DVM

“Laser therapy.” When you hear these words what comes to your mind? Don’t be afraid to say it. A lot of people imagine something out of a sci-fi movie with aliens using laser beams to cut things and destroy planets. But did you know that lasers can actually be used as effective tools in the healing process? Did you know that laser therapy can actually make your pet feel more comfortable?

Not all lasers are created equal

LASER stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Lasers that are found in laser pointers emit a low-powered beam of visible light. Surgical lasers use a high-intensity, narrow beam of light to cut through skin and tissue. Therapeutic lasers diffuse different wavelengths of infrared light to an area to stimulate healing. The lasers that we will be discussing today are the medical-grade therapeutic lasers.

Is laser therapy a new technology?

In the early 1900s, Einstein proposed a theory for the creation of lasers, but the first laser wasn’t built until 1960.  In the following 25 years, scientists refined the process and made lasers safer, easier to use, and more affordable.

With these advances, the medical community began using lasers in both human and veterinary medicine. Technology continues to evolve, making lasers even more useful in the continued care of both people and pets.white dog receiving laser therapy

How can therapeutic laser help my pet?

There are many benefits of laser therapy! Laser therapy can:

  • Accelerate wound healing and tissue repair
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Decrease pain

Therapy laser can be used for many different illnesses and problems including, but not limited to:

  • Skin wounds
  • Back or joint pain
  • Stomatitis (irritation to the gums)
  • Post-surgical healing, for example following ACL repair
  • Bladder irritation/cystitis
  • Sinus problems

The list could go on and on for all the uses for laser! Check with your veterinarian to see if laser therapy could benefit your pet.

How long does a laser therapy treatment take?

The length of each laser therapy session depends on the location and severity of your pet’s injury or illness.  On average, each laser therapy session takes less than 5 minutes. Your veterinarian or technician can perform this therapy during a regular veterinary appointment.

Will I need to do anything special after my pet’s laser treatment?

No.  You will not have to provide any special care for your pet following a laser treatment. If you have been applying ice or a cold compress to an affected area (for example a sore knee), don’t use ice on the day of your pet’s laser treatment.

Will my pet need more than one laser therapy sessions?

This question is best answered by your veterinarian. The number of laser therapy treatments your pet may need will depend on your pet’s illness/injury and your pet’s lifestyle. Some pets will see improvement after 1-2 treatments. Pets that have large open wounds or are recovering from surgery may need 6 or more bi-weekly treatments. Your veterinarian can adjust the treatment plan based on the speed of your pet’s progress in healing.

The benefits of laser therapy are immeasurable.  From reducing inflammation to promoting wound healing, lasers can be a valuable part of your pet’s veterinary care.  Talk with your veterinarian to see how this amazing technology can improve your pet’s quality of life!