What is Laser Therapy for Dogs?
Laser therapy is a non-invasive photobiomodulation therapy to help in the rehabilitation of different conditions. Laser therapy uses light as a way to increase blood circulation and stimulate cell regeneration. It’s been used on humans for decades but laser therapy has been used on dogs in recent years. It essentially promotes healing while reducing inflammation and pain. There’s two types of laser therapy:
- Cold Laser Therapy: treats the surface of the skin
- Hot Laser Therapy: treats deeper tissues
How Does Laser Therapy for Dogs Work?
First, it’s important to note that the word LASER stands for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” With cold laser therapy, the lasers are colder with a shorter wavelength and hot laser therapy is similar with just a longer wavelength than cold laser therapy. The laser actually emits light energy (photons) into the tissue of the affected/damaged areas and works at the level of the cell. This process is called “photobiomodulation” which produces the fuel required to enhance the function of damaged cells and hasten their regeneration aka adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Your dog will experience less inflammation, less pain, and a shorter recovery time as a result. You can learn more about it in a study in the Integrative Veterinary Care Journal by Dr. Robin Downing, hospital director of the Windsor Veterinary Clinic in Colorado. Laser therapy can be used with other treatments like acupuncture or hydrotherapy.
What Does Laser Therapy Treat?
Laser therapy aids in the healing and recovery of multiple painful conditions. It can treat both acute and chronic conditions. It can actually help with a variety of conditions all over the body. Some of these conditions in dogs include ear infections, fractures, arthritis, degenerative joint disease, muscular-skeletal abnormalities, sprains, and swelling from back disc problems. . It helps with relieving the pain while actively helping the body health itself. Along with healing injuries, it can also help with
- “Surgical wound healing
- Traumatic wound healing
- Increasing the metabolism of specific tissues
- Reducing the formation of scar tissue
- Improving nerve function and nerve regeneration
- Releasing of painful trigger points
- Speeding the healing of infections” (PetMD)
How Safe is Laser Therapy for Dogs?
Cold laser therapy provides no risk of burning due to the frequency of the light energy. There is a slight risk of burning from hot laser therapy due to an increase in the frequency. There is a risk to both dogs and humans if they look directly at the laser beam so both the laser operator and dogs wear protective eyewear during treatment.
How Effective is Laser Therapy Treatment for Dogs?
The use of veterinary laser therapy in the treatment of pain and inflammation in dogs, as well as wound healing, has been shown to be effective. It’s a non-invasive, drug-free approach of enabling the body to repair itself to cure a variety of diseases. In some dogs, the benefits of laser therapy can be seen almost immediately after treatment begins. Most issues improve after a few sessions, and depending on the severity of the ailment being treated, many treatments may be required before significant change is seen. When used after surgery, it can help to lessen the chance of problems. It’s also been shown to have long-term effects on conditions, lowering the chances of recurrence.
How Much Do Laser Therapy Sessions Cost?
For a laser therapy treatment, dogs will be laying down or sitting while the laser operator places the laser over the affected area while moving the laser around the area or holding it in place. There is no need for shaving the area being treated and nothing needs to be applied to the fur or skin.
The length of sessions for laser therapy for dogs is dependent on the power density of the laser but it’s usually under one minute per affected site. When it comes to power density, there’s four classes of laser with Class 4 emitting the highest power output. Class 3 and 4 are most commonly used for veterinary medicine. Sessions commonly last about 10-30 minutes depending on how many sites are being treated.
When it comes to how many treatments a dog needs, this is dependent on the type of laser as well as the condition or diseases and whether it’s chronic or acute. The average amount of treatments is about two to three times a week for two to three weeks and then this reduces depending on the outcome. Conditions that are both acute and painful likely undergo more frequent treatments. If a dog has just had surgery, they might have their first treatment before the dog has woken up.
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How do Laser Therapy Sessions Work?
Laser therapy can cost anywhere from $25 and $50 each session, depending on the time of exposure necessary. Dogs may need a few of sessions each week at the beginning of treatment, with the number decreasing as therapy proceeds. Treatment might last up to a month.