Laser Treatment for Dogs: A Safe, Effective Way of Treating Inflammation
While your favorite Hollywood starlet may rely on lasers to reduce wrinkles and remove excess hair, laser treatment for dogs serves a completely different purpose. Lasers are used by veterinarians to treat acute and chronic injuries, pain and inflammation, and are becoming increasingly popular. They are also being used after surgical procedures to speed up the healing process. Many dog owners are concerned about the risk of side effects with conventional pain relieving medication. They are seeking safer, more natural methods of making their four legged family members feel better, and this is where laser treatment comes into its own.
What is Laser Treatment?
A laser directs a ray of infra-red light energy into the injured part of your dog’s body. This light energy reduces inflammation and increases the flow of blood to the area which encourages healing. It also enhances their body’s immune system, and causes the release of endorphins which help to relieve their pain. There is also a suggestion that the light energy affects nerve endings, and stops them sending pain messages to the brain.
Does Laser Treatment work?
There are few research papers that show laser treatment does work in animals. However, many veterinarians can share their own experiences that suggest it is effective in easing pain in dogs. It appears particularly useful in managing chronic arthritis, as well as sudden injuries such as ligament strains. It has also been used to treat ear inflammation, bladder inflammation, and skin wounds. Wherever there is inflammation, laser treatment may be useful.
After my dog Chester had TPLO surgery to repair a torn ACL, I took him for physical therapy to accelerate the rehabilitation of his leg. After some strength training and time in the underwater treadmill tank, we would end his session with a laser treatment. At his 6-week check up with the surgeon I mentioned the laser treatments and the surgeon asked me if I thought it worked. I told him that I could not tell for sure but Chester sure loved be cooed over and treated like the king he really is (his full name is Chesterfield King). When I relayed the story to me family vet, he said “of course it works. Not only do we all use it here on our pets, but we use it on our own aches and pains”. My vet also owns a horse farm and told me they had been using lasers on horses for decades.
Pros and Cons of Laser Treatment
What are the advantages and disadvantages of laser treatment in dogs? On the plus side, laser therapy won’t cause your dog any problems. The laser that is used for this type of treatment won’t burn your dog’s skin at all. This treatment also doesn’t have the same potential side effects as pain killing medication.
The results of laser treatment can be long-lasting. A single course of treatment can provide several months of pain relief.
The negatives? Laser treatment for dogs usually relies on multiple visits to your veterinarian. This will be costly, and it may be difficult to fit frequent visits into your busy schedule. Your dog may have laser therapy on alternate days for one week, and then the frequency is reduced to once or twice a week for two to three weeks.
While it is expensive, any medical treatment for your dog will cost you money. Anecdotal reports suggest the price of laser therapy in dogs is comparable to the cost of long-term anti-inflammatory medication. But many veterinary practices will offer a packaged price if you sign up for multiple treatments. I think I paid about $35 per session. Veterinary care in the Northeast of the US is generally pretty expensive so it could cost less where you live.
Not all veterinary practices have the facilities to offer laser treatment for your dog, so you may need to travel to find a veterinarian who can provide this service.
Pain can really affect your dog’s enjoyment of life. Laser therapy for dogs can provide pain relief with no adverse effects, and help to put a spring back into their step. So if you have a dog who is suffering from pain, ask your vet if laser therapy is right for them.