For many, the word “laser” evokes an image of an intense light beam that can generate a lot of heat and cut things. Photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) uses a different type of laser that can be of great help by promoting healing, and reducing inflammation and pain. When your dog or cat is uncomfortable or in pain, alleviating their distress is more important than anything. Photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) or laser therapy for pets is a painless, noninvasive, and easy way to do this. Laser therapy has been scientifically proven to be successful in treating post-surgical pain and many acute and chronic conditions.

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Who benefits from laser therapy?

Pets with a wide variety of problems benefit from laser therapy. Studies have shown successful use of PBMT for improving tissue repair and wound healing and for decreased inflammation and pain reduction. Reduction in inflammation and pain in both acute and chronic conditions accelerates healing and improves the patient’s quality of life. Laser therapy is used for many veterinary medical conditions, including:

  • Arthritis
  • Bone, tendon and ligament injuries
  • Surgical wound healing
  • Traumatic wound healing
  • Improving nerve function and nerve regeneration
  • Releasing of painful trigger points
  • Speeding the healing of infections
  • Allergic skin disease
  • Gingivitis
  • Hot Spots (moist dermatitis)
  • Muscular sprain/strain
  • Anal gland infections
  • Ear infections
  • Burns, allergies and other skin conditions
  • Reducing the formation of scar tissue

How does it work?

Therapeutic laser is the application of light energy to areas of the body to stimulate healing. Laser therapy uses a simple beam of light to penetrate deeply into tissues and produce positive tissue changes. Laser therapy helps tissue repair by causing the following:

  • Energizing the cells involved in healing by stimulating the replenishment of their “fuel” ATP (adenosine triphosphate).
  • Endorphin release
  • Immunomodulation
  • Increasing the blood flow to bring in oxygen and cells involved in the healing process
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Faster healing

What does a laser therapy session look like?

During a laser treatment therapy, your pet will lie on a blanket on a table or on the floor. Therapeutic laser does not require shaving their hair. During the treatment, we move the handheld laser wand slowly back and forth over the area that is to be treated. The laser generates a warm, pleasant sensation that most pets seem to enjoy and find relaxing. Both the pet and the people in the room must wear goggles to protect their eyes while the laser is in use. Sessions last three to seven minutes, and the number and frequency of treatment sessions depend on the injury or condition that is treated.

How often will my pet have to be treated?

Acute issues are usually treated more frequently, over a shorter period of time, while chronic conditions are treated less frequently but for a longer time. That means that chronic conditions may be treated weekly, but surgical incisions and open wounds often require daily treatment.

Is laser therapy safe for pets?

Lasers are 100% safe with no risk of side effects. It has been FDA approved and safely used on humans for over 40 years. No unsafe heat levels are generated by the laser beams, so you don’t have to worry about your pet being burned. Many pets seem to find the laser beams to be soothing.

Research

Research has shown that PBMT reduces pain levels, improves lameness and inflammation and helps wound healing:

https://avmajournals.avma.org/view/journals/ajvr/83/8/ajvr.22.03.0036.xml

Laser therapy reduced pain levels and improved clinical findings in dogs with hip osteoarthritis.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6091142/

Regularly scheduled laser therapy for six weeks was successful in improving lameness and pain scores, and in lowering nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug requirement in canine elbow osteoarthritis patients.

The American Animal Hospital Association endorses laser therapy and includes it in its pain management guidelines.

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References

AVMA – João C. Alves DVM, MSc, PhDalves.jca@gnr.pt, Ana Santos DVM, MSc, Patrícia Jorge DVM, and L. Miguel Carreira DVM, PhD – A randomized double-blinded controlled trial on the effects of photobiomodulation therapy in dogs with osteoarthritis – June 28th, 2022 – https://avmajournals.avma.org/view/journals/ajvr/83/8/ajvr.22.03.0036.xml

AAHA – What is veterinary laser therapy – https://www.aaha.org/your-pet/pet-owner-education/ask-aaha/laser-therapy/

Brian Pryor PhD, Darryl L.Millis MS, DVM, DACVS, CCRP, DACVSMR – Therapeutic Laser in Veterinary Medicine – January 2015 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25432681/