Some pain is inevitable in life, but when it becomes constant, it’s time to kick it to the curb. Pain medication is usually helpful, but now cold laser therapy, a new cutting edge treatment, is available for pets coping with arthritis, wounds, and the post-surgery healing process. Cold laser therapy is an FDA-approved modality that is gaining widespread recognition in the veterinary field for helping pets who are struggling with specific health issues.
At Palmer Veterinary Clinic, we are proud to offer this treatment. Here, we explain laser therapy’s uses and benefits for our patients.
Is laser therapy new in pets?
Laser therapy has been used for years in the human medical field. Veterinarians now use the therapy to alleviate their patients’ pain, repair damaged cells, and promote healing.
Laser light’s beneficial effects on tissue were recognized almost 40 years ago. Since then, thousands of studies have documented laser therapy’s safety and positive effects in humans and pets. Recent advances in technology and manufacturing have made this exciting treatment modality available and affordable for veterinarians and their patients.
How does laser therapy for pets work?
The term “laser” is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Veterinary laser therapy, which is also known as cold laser, low-level laser, or class 4 laser, applies red or near infrared light with four different wavelengths that can be combined to target soft tissue, penetrate deep muscle, and reach bone.
The therapeutic laser works differently from a surgical laser, which is used for cutting tissue. With laser therapy, light waves of a specific wavelength pass from a handheld probe to the area of focus on the pet’s body. The light particles painlessly enter the pet’s skin, and the skin cells absorb the tissues. When body areas absorb energy from the laser, cells are stimulated to grow, multiply, move, and repair (i.e., photobiostimulation).
Increased blood flow to the surgical area and endorphin release repair the tissue, and decrease inflammation and pain.
Seeing the light about laser therapy in pets
Laser therapy can benefit any pet experiencing pain or discomfort, and a wide variety of conditions. Laser therapy helps tissue repair by:
- Reducing swelling
- Decreasing pain
- Increasing blood flow and circulation
- Reducing chances of infection
- Accelerating tissue repair
- Increasing mobility
- Improving nerve function
- Releasing endorphins
A magic wand: Cold laser therapy for your pet
Laser therapy has no damaging side effects and is drug-free, non-invasive, and pain-free. If your pet’s veterinarian finds that laser therapy could help your pet, we will work with you to form a treatment plan. No sedation is required, and most pets enjoy the extra attention and comfort at each treatment. The laser emits a soothing, comforting warmth that causes most pets to relax completely—some pets fall asleep.
Each laser therapy treatment takes 3 to 15 minutes. Eye protection is required for pets and the veterinary team. Depending on your pet’s condition, the benefits may be obvious after several sessions, although some pets feel better immediately. Chronic conditions typically require successive treatments and may be combined with other treatments such as acupuncture and massage.
We may recommend laser therapy as a part of your pet’s treatment plan if they are:
- Suffering from osteoarthritis or joint disease
- Recovering from a surgical procedure
- Nursing a slow-healing wound, such as a burn
- Suffering from chronic skin, ear, or other infections
- Coping with a soft tissue injury or muscle strain
- Suffering with dental disease
- Dealing with swelling or inflammation inside the body
- Affected by spinal or neurologic disease
Cold laser therapy can be particularly useful for pets with limited treatment options, such as:
- Exotic pets for whom medications are difficult to administer
- Cats for whom only a few pain medications are FDA-approved
- Pets who have liver disease and can’t metabolize medications well
- Pets who are struggling with wound healing
- Older pets with decreased organ function
If your arthritic kitty has suddenly stopped jumping on the couch for a snuggle, or your agility dog is injured, cold laser therapy could be the answer to alleviate their pain and discomfort.
Rehabilitation is rarely an easy road, but cold laser therapy can make recovery much more manageable. If you’re wondering about the benefits of this innovative treatment, or you have questions about your pet’s overall wellness care, we welcome your call at Palmer Veterinary Clinic.