At Lewis Animal Hospital we have laser therapy available to help our patients but many of our clients don’t know what exactly that means so today we are going to talk about what laser therapy is, how it helps your pets, and why we use it.
What is laser therapy?
As science fiction as it sounds, laser therapy is where a trained technician uses a painless laser to help your pet recover from a medical ailment. The amount of time needed and the way the laser is applied will depend on what we are treating and where on the pet. If a wound, sore, or incision is being treated the laser will be pointed at the targeted area and hovered over until the treatment is completed. If the problem is deeper in the body like arthritis, soft tissue injury, or other internal pain a special designed head will be placed on the laser to help massage and allow the light to penetrate deeper into the tissue. These treatments can be one-time events or spread through multiple sessions usually lasting no more than a few minutes.
How does a laser help heal?
When we first hear laser we think of cutting or burning but this is not that kind of laser. This laser feels like a warm light and will not cut anything. In the most basic sense the laser is set to a specific frequency and wave length to go into the cells and help promote activity. This promoted activity increases healing, reduces the inflammation, pain and increases circulation in the area.
Now to get into the more complicated explanation. The process is called photobiomodulation, a mouth full right? Photons (light) from the laser enters the tissue and can be absorbed by melanin, hemoglobin, oxyhemoglobin and water. The absorption of the light will be dissipated as heat, which is soothing to the area. The target of this bombardment of photons however is the mitochondria. The stimulation of the mitochondria, from the photons, increases the production of ATP (energy), reactive oxygen, and NO (nitrous oxide). All together these increase the production of growth factor and increase cellular reproduction. Outside of the cell the NO improves circulation which brings in more nutrients and oxygen to the target area, as well as promote the removal of waste. To recap that scientific mess, we are telling the mitochondria to make more energy and increase the circulation to a specific area, which helps heal and reduce inflammation. If you are more of a visual person here is a wonderful video diagramming the process.
Why we use it?
One of the biggest reasons we at Lewis Animal Hospital use it is because it works. Many of us were skeptical of the whole thing till we saw the results first hand, patients were healing faster, moving better, and feeling less pain. Second reason it is non-invasive and non-reactive, so there are no side effects, it won’t react with any drugs, and all the patient has to do is be, mostly, still for a few minutes.
Should my pet be receiving laser therapy?
This is a unique question and one that should ultimately be discussed with your vet about your pet’s current state. We do have a few patients with joint problems who come in regularly for treatment and for them this works great. There are certain situations though where even the laser can’t help.
This can vary greatly between patients and the medical condition you are trying to treat. For some results seem almost immediate while others need a few days or even a few treatments to see results. The laser can help but it is ultimately relying on the body’s natural processes, which can be anywhere from a bouncing puppy who can heal a scratch in a few days to the old dog on the porch who if they get up a bit too fast will be limping for a month.
When we use it.
· Almost any kind of severe skin irritation (hotspots, rashes, etc.…)
· After most surgeries on the incision and area that was worked on
· Dentals with extractions
· Soft Tissue Injuries/ Lameness
· Abscesses (Bites, anal glands, etc.…)
· Severe arthritis
· Severe UTIs
· Abdominal / Gastrointestinal discomfort
Thank you for reading! Enjoy this video of a penguin who received laser therapy.