Laser Therapy for Dogs & Cats
THE PET PARENT’S GUIDE TO VETERINARY LASER THERAPY FOR DOGS & CATS
Veterinary laser therapy for dogs & cats is coming on strong as a complementary healing modality that literally speeds healing and reduces pain for dogs, cats, and other animals. Lasers have been used in healing for humans for decades, and now are being used as a powerful healing tool for pets as well.
Laser therapy involves beaming specific wavelengths of light (typically red and near-infrared) into tissue to stimulate healing, reduce pain, and bring about a host of benefits. Veterinary laser therapy extends the healing power of laser light into caring for injured, chronically ill, or senior dogs, cats, and other animals. Used in Europe since the 1970s, lasers were approved in 2005 by the US Food and Drug Administration for use on humans and animals.
Advances in technology and therapeutic laser equipment is making it possible for veterinary clinics to now offer laser therapy for dogs and cats.
HOW DOES VETERINARY LASER THERAPY WORK?
Therapeutic laser devices beam specific wavelengths of light (measured in nanometers) into tissue without damaging the tissue. This creates a photochemical reaction in the tissue down to the cellular level. In simple terms, applying laser light increases the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). ATP is the building block substance that cells need to repair themselves and rejuvenate. When an area is injured and cells are not functioning at optimal level, cells don’t produce as much ATP. Spurring the production of ATP using therapeutic lasers improves cellular function, which leads to the repair and healing of tissue.
The effect of laser therapy typically is cumulative. With each veterinary laser treatment for dogs or cats, circulation increases bringing water, oxygen, and nutrients to the damaged area to promote healing.
Laser therapy can provide positive effects for a variety of types of tissues in the body, even neurons (nerve cells that are the basic building block of the body’s nervous system).
BENEFITS OF THERAPEUTIC LASER TREATMENTS FOR DOGS & CATS
The beauty of therapeutic laser treatments is that we know it works. We have plenty of proof that laser therapy works, based on 30 to 40 years of medical research, clinic trials, and laboratory testing. Based on that, we know that therapeutic laser treatments offer many benefits, including:
- Accelerated tissue repair & cell growth
- Increased circulation
- Decreased Swelling
- Reduction in pain from injury or chronic conditions
- Pain relief without using drugs
- Faster healing
- Comfortable, non-invasive treatment
- An alternative to surgery
- Improved nerve funtion and nerve cell regeneration
- Formation of new blood capillaries in damaged tissue
- Reduced formation of scar tissue
- International standards for veterinary laser treatment protocols
In addition, a pet’s fur does not need to be clipped or shaved to administer a therapeutic laser treatment. Protocols for laser therapy are based on science, and there are international standards for veterinary laser treatments.
WHAT CONDITIONS CAN BE TREATED WITH THERAPEUTIC VETERINARY LASERS?
One of the reasons veterinary laser therapy is being so well-received is that it can be used to promote healing of many different conditions faced by your dogs or cats – ranging from injury and recovering from surgery to chronic conditions. Veterinary lasers can be used to treat:
- Anal sac infections
- Ear infections (acute & chronic)
- Gastrointestinal conditions
- Hip dysplasia
- Inflammation and swelling
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease/Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Neck and Back Pain (Acute and chronic)
- Neurological conditions
- Neuromuscular disease, damage/degeneration
- Neuromuscular disease, damage/degeneration
- Respiratory conditions
- Skin problems
- Soft tissue (sprains, strains & tears of muscles, ligaments & tendons)
- Trauma and bone fractures
- Urinary tract conditions
- Wounds (ulcerations, lick granulomas, hot spots, abscesses)
WHAT KIND OF LASER DEVICES ARE USED IN VETERINARY LASER THERAPY?
There are four levels of laser therapy devices, and five classifications, including:
Class 1 Laser: Low power, and safe to use without eye protection
Class 2 Laser: Class 2 Therapeutic lasers are more powerful than Class 1 Lasers, but typically don’t require eye protection because normal blinking of the eyes limits the exposure of the laser light to the eye. However, if blinking is intentionally suppressed, eye damage can occur. The typical device in the Class 2 category is a laser pointer.
Class 3R Laser: 3R lasers are considered safe as long as they’re handled carefully.
Class 3B Laser: 3B lasers can be hazardous to eyes when directly viewing the laser beam. Protective goggles are necessary.
Class 4 Laser: Class 4 lasers comprise all lasers that are more powerful than 3B lasers. Eye protection is mandatory to protect eyes when directly looking at laser light and also from reflected laser light. Class 4 therapeutic lasers typically are used for medical, scientific, manufacturing, and military applications.
WHY ARE SO MANY VETERINARIANS WITH ADVANCED TRAINING USING CLASS 4 LASERS FOR VETERINARY LASER THERAPY?
The main reason why veterinary laser therapy makes use of Class 4 lasers for healing is power. The higher power of a Class 4 laser can project enough healing light deep into tissues without losing the potency as the light penetrates deeper into the body. As such, there’s a stronger photochemical response at the cellular level, which is why Class 4 laser therapy devices offer more dramatic and consistent healing.
THE VETERINARY LASER TREATMENT EXPERIENCE
Obviously, treatment protocols will vary from pet patient to pet patient, depending on the individual needs and condition. But the common denominators are:
- The pet’s eyes will be covered with a towel, or even a set of big comfortable goggles
- Feeling of warmth coming from the hand-held wand from the laser unit applied just above the skin, or directly on the skin
- Relaxing, quiet experience
- Most pets relax because of the warmth, the quiet, and pain relief: dogs lie down and fall asleep; cats lie down and start purring
HOW TO CHOOSE A VETERINARY LASER THERAPIST
1) Choose a veterinary clinic using a Companion Therapy Class 4 therapeutic laser vs. a Class 3 therapeutic laser. When investing in this technology, Dr. Waskow studied various Class 4 lasers extensively. He decided to invest in the Companion Therapy Unit since it was designed based on the best research was found to have far better results than the other Class 4 lasers. The company that produces the Companion Therapy Laser also produced a human version of the unit which is used by many MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL teams to treat their athletes.
2) Find out how long the clinic has been offering laser treatments, and how much experience they have.
3) Find out what kind of training the laser therapist has received.
4) Research if the veterinary clinic is following the standard, universal treatment protocols outlined for specific conditions of dogs and cats from national and international laser therapy associations.
5) Schedule a consult, and find out how the veterinarian would handle laser treatments based on the specific health issues of your dog or cat. Look for laser therapists that understand the nature of the illness, know anatomy, and have a specific treatment plan or protocol they would recommend.
For more information about veterinary laser therapy for dogs & cats, or to schedule a consult or a laser therapy session, please contact Mile High Animal Hospital of Aurora at: 303.693.6484, or Request Appointment.