In my own practice, I’ve used the class IV laser a number of ways. It can help to relieve pain, redness and swelling at surgical incision sites; reduce inflammation related to hot spots, inflamed ears and lick granulomas; and soothe arthritic joints.
Dogs who have spay surgery with laser treatment have little redness, drastically reduced swelling and no discomfort. A severely arthritic dog treated with a laser was able to break the shackles of pain and stiffness and start moving normally again. That’s so satisfying for me and for the pet owner.
Veterinarians and pet owners like laser treatment for a number of reasons:
- It’s noninvasive.
- When used correctly, it doesn’t have any side effects.
- It can be used weekly or monthly for pets with chronic pain, giving them better quality of life.
- In cases of severe pain caused by surgery or trauma, laser treatment can be used twice a day for a few days and then daily to diminish pain and speed healing.
Cold laser has limitations. It can be harmful for pets with cancer, and it shouldn’t be directed at the retina of the eye or over tattoos, or areas of active bleeding. Cost varies depending on the type of machine used and whether a veterinarian or technician is administering the treatment.
In human medicine, science hasn’t yet reached consensus on the effectiveness of laser therapy or the best ways to use it. Health insurance plans for people often don’t cover it, considering it an experimental therapy. Our dogs and cats are luckier because some pet health insurance plans do cover it.
What is really exciting is the potential of laser therapy to help pets be less fearful during veterinary visits by using laser to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. I’ve witnessed it working this way in dogs, cats and horses.
Read about some pets who were helped by laser therapy, and more, in this week’s Pet Connection!