As they say, only pet owners know the joy and companionship that comes with owning a furry friend. We only want what’s best for our animal companions. We bring them to their regular check-ups, give them appropriate baths, feed them healthy food, and take them on walks or runs.
However, sometimes our pets can get sick or injured despite our best efforts. Thankfully, various treatments are available to help our furry friends heal, including canine laser therapy.
What Is Laser Therapy?
Laser therapy, also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT), cold laser therapy, or photobiomodulation (PBM), is a painless, non-invasive treatment using low-level lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to stimulate cellular activity and promote healing.
It works by increasing circulation and drawing oxygen and nutrients to the damaged area, which helps reduce inflammation and pain while promoting healing. Depending on the condition being treated, many different wavelengths and intensities can be used.
During a laser therapy session, the therapist will direct a beam of light onto the area of the body being treated. The laser’s light energy penetrates the tissue and is absorbed by cells in the body. This triggers a biological response within the cells that reduces inflammation and promotes healing.
Laser treatment sessions can last from 15-30 minutes, and most pets will need to have multiple sessions over a period of time to see the full effect of the therapy.
What Are the Benefits of Laser Therapy for Dogs?
One of the most promising potential benefits of laser therapy is its ability to provide pain relief for dogs. Other benefits include:
- Reduced inflammation
- Faster healing
- Reduced pain
- Increased circulation
- Stimulated production of collagen
What Does Research Say?
Though more studies are necessary to confirm the effectiveness of laser therapy, preliminary studies suggest that it may be beneficial for treating various conditions in dogs.
A 2019 study evaluated nine dogs that had undergone thoraco-lumbar hemilaminectomies for intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). They used laser therapy daily for seven days on their incision. The study found that laser therapy improved incision healing and the cosmetic appearance.
For rehabilitation, the efficacy of lasers on tissues is not entirely understood. However, it has been shown to modulate cellular functions. For instance, lasers help modulate many biologic processes that enhance muscle regeneration.
A 2013 study looked at the potential positive impact of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) to treat tendinopathies. The study found that LLLT effectively reduced pain and promoted healing in tendinopathies, with the most significant effects seen in Achilles tendinopathy.
Side Effects of Laser Therapy for Dogs
Laser therapy is considered safe with few if any, side effects. The most common side effect is temporary mild discomfort during the treatment, which generally disappears shortly after the session.
Possible side effects of laser therapy include:
- Allergic reactions (rare)
If your pet experiences any side effects from laser therapy, they should be temporary and resolve quickly. Ensure to ask your vet if you have any concerns.
When Should You Consider Laser Therapy for Your Dog
If your dog experiences pain or discomfort from an injury or chronic condition, laser therapy may be an option to help ease their symptoms. For example, if your vet recommends internal medicine for dogs for their current health issues, you may also consider laser therapy to help with pain relief.
The key is to talk to your veterinarian about your options and what may work best for your pet’s individual needs.
As a pet owner, you are not only responsible for your pet’s vaccinations (see dog and cat vaccinations in New York). You also consider their overall health and wellbeing. This means that you should explore all possible treatment options, including laser therapy, to ensure that your pet is getting the best possible care.
Though more research is necessary to confirm its efficacy, laser therapy is generally considered safe with few side effects. Speak with your vet if you believe your pet could benefit from this therapy.