Laser therapy is the stimulation of tissue to promote healing in animals. There are two basic kinds of laser therapy: cold and hot. We’re going to look at both types and how they’re used to treat different conditions.
Hot laser therapy is use to treat deep tissue injuries. Always consult a professional, otherwise you risk burning your dog’s skin and surrounding tissue. It’s used far less often than cold laser therapy, usually only in very special circumstances.
Cold laser therapy, also called Class Four or low-level laser therapy, works at the level of the skin. It’s non-invasive, and treats conditions like arthritis, injuries to the tendon or soft tissues and promotes wound healing. This is the most common and widely used form of laser therapy.
Does laser therapy hurt?
Laser therapy is a painless, non-traumatic and quick treatment. Your dog will probably not even require restraint when undergoing cold laser therapy and may actually enjoy the process. The hand-held equipment allows therapists to zero in on the target area quickly. It emits a coherent light beam tuned to a particular frequency which will be beneficial to your dog’s tissues.
You and your dog occasionally require eye protection. More often than not, however, you won’t need protection. If the practitioner brings out the goggles, please don’t be alarmed. Laser therapy is one of the few medical treatments tested on humans before animals. It’s FDA-approved, and has successfully treated humans for over a decade. Basically, it’s safe.
The nitty-gritty: what is the process?
Technicians use a hand-held device that emits a low-level laser. Treatment aids post-op recovery, and reduces pain and inflammation from arthritis and hip dysplasia. It also speeds up healing from traumatic injuries, including sprains, strains, fractures, and nerve injury, and increases circulation to these areas.
Initially, technicians will schedule multiple appointments per week. They’ll gradually reduce the frequency of the treatment until you reach a maintenance level. This may be once a fortnight or once a month for conditions such as arthritis.
Cold laser therapy continues until your dog recovers fully from surgery.
Do I have to take the day off work?
Most treatments take less than half an hour, which is about as long as you can expect your dog to be still. It’s impossible to ‘overdose’ on cold laser therapy. Generally, laser therapy will not be the only therapeutic intervention. It’s part of a treatment program that includes physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and exercise.
What does the Patient Information Leaflet say about side-effects?
There are no verified negative side effects of cold laser therapy.
If your dog is arthritic, has hip dysplasia or joint pain, or recovering from an injury or an operation, consult your veterinarian to find out if they’re a good candidate for laser therapy. Inform the technician if your dog has any skin conditions, including rashes. This is because direct contact with the laser will cause further irritation. The treatment is still effective, but the technician will ‘hover’ the device just above the skin. Again, your dog is likely to find this pleasant and will probably require only the very lightest of restraints, if any.
Laser therapy is a proven treatment method increasingly recommended by veterinarians. It’s particularly effective at managing pain associated with injury or degenerative conditions. Technology is advancing exponentially, so if you think your dog is a good fit for the laser therapy, speak to your veterinarian and let this high-tech innovation work to improve your dog’s quality of life.