Laser Therapy For Pets
Contributed by: MVZ Omar Eduardo Reyes Luis
Laser therapy has found its way into veterinary medicine and can be used to treat dogs and cats with great results and minimum contraindications.
How it works
The therapy utilizes a therapeutic laser machine; the laser itself is handled as if it were a pencil. It penetrates different layers of the patient tissue depending on the patient’s illness, and also has two techniques of usage – punctual and swipe. The nature of the problem that needs treatment will affect the penetration and technique of the laser.
The laser produces a strong analgesic effect, stimulates anti-inflammatory response and tissue regeneration, reduces the flow of blood in hemorrhages and accelerates the immune response of the body towards infection; in short, it naturally stimulates nearly every cell in the body to do their functions in a faster, more efficient way.
Most frequently treated problems
This therapy can be used to help in the treatment of injuries and degenerative orthopedic illnesses. The most commonly treated are:
Fractures: It accelerates the formation of callus reducing the time of recovery. It’s particularly helpful on bones that cannot be immobilized or require surgery such as ribs, scapula and the pelvis.
Lumbar and articular pains: Because of its analgesic effect and stimulation of tissue recovery, this therapy is of great help on older dogs that suffer frequent joint or articular pain. It’s also helpful on degenerative orthopedic diseases such as hip dysplasia, arthritis and spondylitis (AKA parrot beak). It’s a good alternative to reduce the time for anti-inflammatory and analgesic medication.
Muscle atrophy: The laser stimulates the regeneration and tension of muscle fibers, causing the muscle to recover its tone and function faster than it would normally. It is particularly helpful on animals that just came out of surgery or suffer an accident that restrains their movement.
Reduce time of inflammation on injuries: It stimulates microcirculation, lymphatic drainage and the immune response, causing swollen tissue to reduce faster. This is handy in post-operatory care, since sometimes the line of incision gets swollen causing itchiness and pain to the patient.
Minimal to mild nerve damage: As long as the connective tissue of the nerve is intact, the nerve can recover over time, but sometimes it can take days, weeks and even months. In these cases the laser helps to reduce that waiting time. Similar to the muscle, the laser stimulates nerve tissue recovery reconnecting the axons of the nerve. However, if the connective tissue is severed, not even the laser can help the nerve recover.
Candidates for Laser Therapy
Laser therapy can be administrated on dogs and cats of any breed or gender. Puppies and kittens are candidates too as long as they are at least 4-6 months of age. However, before considering this procedure for a pet, the owner must realize that this is an auxiliary therapy, not a replacement for veterinary treatment, and that there are some contraindications for this therapy.
Since the principal effect of the laser is the stimulation of cellular activity, this therapy is contraindicated on patients with suspicious masses in the body such as patients with cancer, injuries like cuts and bruises that haven’t been properly treated with antibiotics, pets on treatment with photosensitive medications, pregnant females and, since they are still in development, puppies below 16 weeks of age are also not recommended because this therapy can alter their growth.
Laser therapy can have results that go from 30% to 70% effectiveness in the first session, and in some fortunate cases the session can be 100% effective. It all depends on the condition and age of the animal. Be sure to consult your trusted veterinarian before submitting your pet to any type of therapy.