Review from the last post “Fundamentals of Laser Therapy for Pets“:
Cold laser therapy is a noninvasive procedure that uses light to decrease pain and inflammation of the cells. The laser itself is a beam of light that travels at certain frequencies and penetrates into the tissue. The laser goes deep into the cells to start a chain of chemical reactions known as photobiostimulation. Pain is relieved by the release of endorphins and it stimulate injured cells to heal faster. Our Class IV Cold Therapy laser that we have here at Oakview Vet is programmable to treat many different medical conditions in small animals.
One of the benefits of laser therapy is that it is noninvasive. There is no need to shave or clip the hair, and the animal can move and walk around during the process. Depending on the condition we are treating, we like to think of the laser as a warm massage with a smooth ball like head gliding over the skin slowly with small amounts of pressure. Treatments can vary in length typically anywhere from 3-8 minutes per site. Each “site” can include an area such as the shoulder, hips, or stifle (knee) and is about the size of a playing card. Treatments are cumulative, but you can see improvement after one session. It is beneficial to do multiple treatments so they add up to a greater improvement over time on your pet.
As we administer laser therapy to your pet, everyone in the room needs to wear special glasses including your pet to protect their eyes from the red laser itself.
How can my pet benefit from laser therapy?
After just one session, you may notice an improvement in your pets pain level or you may notice a change in mobility of your pet. Maybe they use stairs again or play with a ball that he has not picked up in months. Maybe he would even be able to get up on the couch to snuggle. When we increase the mobility in our pets, we may be able to decrease the amount of medication that is needed for pain and inflammation as well.
There are a variety of medical conditions we can use laser for including but not limited to:
- Muscle, ligament, or tendon injuries
- Post-surgical incision sites
- Soft tissue trauma
- Spinal pain/disease
- Ear infections
- Gingivitis/Tooth extractions
- Hot spots and open wounds
- Arthritis/Hip Dysplasia
- Anal gland infection
Many of our laser therapy patients are older and benefit very much from treatments. Some signs of pain to look for if you have a senior pet:
• Abnormal posture during sitting
• Whining, vocalizing more often
• Unable to get up or down
• Difficulties getting upstairs or even into car
• Lack of grooming
• Licking or biting areas on body
• Lack of appetite
It is important to keep an eye on your animals closely so we can treat them sooner rather than later. The sooner we begin, the better chance we have of helping them feel better!
Laser for pain relief and inflammation
Laser treatments are an excellent way to provide pain relief for many patients. The laser light reduces pain by a process called “vasodialation” (the opening of blood vessels) and also by activation the lymphatic drainage system, thus draining the swollen areas. Reduced swelling then reduces pain. The laser also stimulates nerve cells that block pain signals being transmitted to the brain.
The production of endorphins, which are natural pain relievers in the brain, are increased using laser. Here at Oakview Vet, we use laser therapy on just about all of our patients that come in for routine surgeries such as spay or neuter unless contraindicated. Because the laser works directed on affected areas, we can help speed up the healing process, strengthen the muscle and tissue, and of course decrease pain and inflammation associated with the surgical procedure itself.
So why laser therapy?
Laser treatment is pain-free and often comforting. As the laser treatment is being performed, your pet may feel a soothing, warm feeling (similar to a warm compress). For many pets laser treatment is very relaxing and they may even take a snooze! As we laser the tissue, areas of pain and inflammation become more comfortable, reducing anxiety and tension. Eventually, your pet will realize they are getting a relaxing massage!
written by Christina Brandes, CVT
Christina graduated from Madison Area Technical College. She joined us in 2016.
She and her fiance David have a baby boy named Kaysen. They also share their home with 2 cats, Moby and Annabelle, a bearded dragon named Leonard, and a gecko named Clyde.
In her spare time, Christina enjoys camping and other outdoor activities.