What Is Laser Therapy and How Can it Help My Pet?

Laser Therapy

by Dr. Michelle Jude

Veterinary medicine has progressed more in the last decade than it has in the last fifty years. One of those progressions is a class four therapy laser. I have seen the benefits and witnessed amazing responses to using a therapy laser and hopefully this article will help people understand and realize the added value of laser therapy.

I graduated in 2006 from Auburn University and had never heard of laser therapy. In the last few years it has really been a hot topic because of the success it has been proven to have. I believe class four therapy lasers were first used in proatheletes because the importance of having a player back on the playing field was critical for the success of the team. We are all players in the field of life including our animals and laser therapy is a drug free, surgery free way of relief for your pet.

So, what is laser therapy you might ask? Laser therapy is the use of a beam of laser light to deeply penetrate tissue without damaging it. Laser energy induces a biological response in the cells called “photo-bio-modulation”, which leads to reduced pain, reduced inflammation and increased healing time. Laser therapy has been scientifically proven to be successful in treating post surgical pain and many acute and chronic conditions.

Acute conditions that we often treat with the laser include wounds, intervertebral disc disease, allergies, lacerations, sprains/strains, fractures and in post-surgical healing and pain relief. More chronic conditions that we have treated successfully include arthritis, periodontal disease, lick granulomas, hip dysplasia, perianal fistulas and many more. The only condition that is not recommended to be treated with the therapy laser is neoplasia, or cancer, because it increases bloodflow which can lead to growth of the tumor.

Most pets really enjoy their laser therapy sessions and many will be so relaxed they actually go to sleep during it. Most sessions are ten minutes or less and we encourage the owners to be present so that the pet will be as relaxed as possible. The only requirement is that everyone in the room has to wear special glasses because the light can damage the retina in the eye if stared at for an extended period of time. It can take three to four sessions for an owner to tell a difference, but most pet owners can tell a drastic difference after only one or two sessions. It is nice to offer a more natural alternative to chronic conditions that has been proven to work.

One case that comes to mind is a sweet German Shepherd Dog that has a very long history of perianal fistulas. Her medical therapy was no longer effective and when we started laser therapy she had at least eight bleeding openings around her anus. Her mom says that after the first session she could tell a huge difference. After two weeks of therapy, her fistulas were almost completely gone and we were able to remove her anal glands which completely healed one side and the other side is at least 75% healed. This was a dog that had been on prednisone and antibiotics for 3 years and everywhere she sat she left a blood trail. She is off them for the most part and feeling so much better!

In the last six years that I have been a practicing veterinarian I have witnessed changes in drugs, treatments and technology that is truly amazing. Laser therapy is something that I am sure will become a mainstream therapy not only in veterinary medicine, but human medicine as well because of its proven success. I am excited to see what the future holds for my profession and for the future well being of all animals.