Is your pet dealing with pain from an injury, illness, or procedure? Some therapies can supplement their standard care plan and help to manage any discomfort. Here, our Columbia vets share some of the benefits of cold laser therapy for dogs and cats, how it works, and what pets may see improvement from it.
Cold Laser Therapy for Cats & Dogs
Cold laser therapy is a non-invasive, drug-free treatment option for pets that can help alleviate pain, stimulate and enhance cell regeneration and blood circulation, and improve healing.
These are also referred to as low-level lasers, low-power lasers, and soft lasers. Because cold laser therapy only treats the surface of your pet's skin, it is often a safer option than surgical or hot laser treatments, which penetrate deeper into tissue.
This therapy is considered a safe option for companion animals and is used as a supplement to traditional types of veterinary care.
What happens during a laser therapy session?
Cold laser therapy treatment sessions typically take place in a spacious comfortable room and can last from anywhere between five minutes, and up to 30 minutes depending on the condition being treated, your pet's size, specific needs and circumstances, and other factors. Your pet will be positioned on a mat to help encourage him or her to relax. Both the operator of the laser and your pet will need to wear protective eyewear.
Your veterinarian will wave a low-intensity laser or light-emitting diode (LED) over your pet's body to stimulate the tissue for therapeutic purposes. Your pet will receive a relaxing, concentrated, light-pulsing treatment that can help with any of the health issues listed below. The cells in your pet's tissue absorb the light from the laser and repair and regenerate themselves.
During the session, your pet's brain also releases endorphins, which make them feel better. Your cat or dog will not feel any pain during their session and may even have a peaceful nap until we are done.
The laser's wavelength controls how deep it penetrates the tissue, so your veterinarian must be trained in this type of therapy and on how to choose the correct wavelength to reach the tissue that should be targeted. This light-tissue interaction is called photobiomodulation.
One of the benefits of treatment using veterinary cold laser therapy for cats and dogs is that there is no aftercare or downtime needed.
What type of pets benefit from therapy using cold lasers?
Cold laser therapy can be a great help for pets who are unable to withstand traditional types of treatment. These can include:
- Pets who suffer from liver disease and can't take certain medications
- Older pets that are unable to take medication due to decreased organ function
- Cats that are only able to have specific pain management medications
- Exotic pets that may not be able to take medications in the way they are normally administered
What conditions are cold lasers typically used for?
Some of the conditions that cold laser therapy has been able to benefit include:
- Acute injuries
- Bone Fractures
- Degenerative Joint Disease
- Ear Infections
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Muscle, ligament, and joint pain and injuries
- Skin (dermatological) issues such as lick granuloma
- Symptoms of arthritis (including inflammation)
- Soft tissue trauma
- Strains and sprains
How does cold laser therapy manage pain?
Symptoms such as heavy panting, loss of appetite, trembling, aggression, and/or excessive grooming can indicate your pet is in pain. Aside from reducing their mobility and quality of life, pain can affect your pet's appetite, disrupt normal behavior, and have them feeling uncomfortable and distressed much of the time.
Needless to say, you'd probably like to ensure your pet can live as pain-free as possible, whether they are healing from surgery, recovering from an acute injury, or suffering from a chronic health condition.
In general, cold lasers are an effective way to alleviate pain in pets. Cold laser therapy helps heal damaged nerves. It increases blood flow and oxygenation to injured tissues, encourages muscles to relax, and reduces the presence of bacteria, all of which can contribute to a reduction in pain.
Veterinary Cold Laser Therapy for Pets at Maury County Veterinary Hospital
Veterinary cold laser therapy is a fairly new method of treatment for symptoms related to various disorders and is most commonly used to help manage pain, inflammation, and wound healing for your pet.
No sedation is needed pre-treatment, and your vet won't need to pierce or shave any part of your pet's body before treatment sessions. That said, it's important to note that cold lasers are not a cure-all. They cannot reduce or eliminate tissue growth resulting from conditions such as mineralization in the ear canal, bone spurs, or deformities due to arthritis. Cold laser therapy is not recommended for pets with cancer, as it could worsen or spread malignancy. Your pet should be able to return to normal activities following their session.
Speak to your Columbia vet if you would like to learn more about how your dog may benefit from veterinary laser therapy.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.