What is Laser Therapy and How Can It Help My Pet?

Posted by Stacey Venzel
Boundary Animal Hospital

Laser therapy, gaining in popularity, can quickly and efficiently ease pain in your animal.

When people think of lasers, they imagine a hot red stream of light that burns through objects. Or they picture Star Wars lightsabers. Neither is really accurate when talking about laser therapy.

Though traditional excimer lasers can cut through skin to remove tumors while simultaneously cauterizing the newly minted wound, laser therapy uses light on a low setting to promote healing.

For this reason, it is also referred to as cold laser therapy or low level light therapy, among a sea of similar names and acronyms.

 Broward Exotic Animal Care
Broward Exotic Animal Care

Light sources can be differentiated based on their refractometry. LED light waves scatter across a surface whereas LASERs, which stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, remain concentrated.

Think of the spread of the beam emitted from a flashlight versus that of a laser pointer. The coherent nature of a laser beam allows it to focus on one area, offering positive implications for centralized treatment.

Exotic Pet Vet
Exotic Pet Vet

The laser emission is a soothing, warming sensation that often relaxes the pet, similar to a massage. When the bundle of light energy, called photons, enters into the tissues, they are absorbed into the powerhouse of the cells--the mitochondria.

There they are converted into ATP, a form of energy the cell can use for whatever manner the body needs. In this case, the energy is used for healing.

The photons emitted in the light beam penetrate the skin, working on the tissue to stimulate nerve endings, cell growth, and blood flow. This reduces inflammation, thereby relieving pain in a manner akin to acupuncture. Activation of tissues, cells and nerve fibers also entices quicker wound recovery, similar to how honey helps granulate a scab.

 The Jaeckle Centre
The Jaeckle Centre

This alternative medicine is most often employed in treating sprains, fractures, arthritis, contusions, and other injuries. It can also aid in tumor reduction.

Because lasers work in a field of light outside of the normal animal ocular spectrum, protective eyewear is sometimes worn as a precautionary measure, though the light level is nowhere near that of traditional lasers.

A Cat Clinic
A Cat Clinic

A session typically requires 5 to 10 minutes of localized treatment per site or joint. Typically, one session a week for a month and then a couple every few weeks thereafter can get your pet back into tip-top shape, though a veterinarian will come up with an individualized plan for your companion. In many cases, the increased cell oxygenation as well as endorphin release can have almost immediate effects of pain relief.

Considered a holistic treatment, laser therapy, along with acupuncture, is becoming increasingly more popular with pet owners. Many dog, cat, horse, and even turtle owners are turning to alternative, non-invasive, drug-free methods of treatment for their pets.

More and more pet insurance companies are also covering the costs of these treatments, which range anywhere from $50 to $100 a session. Think of it as a spa day for your pet.

Perhaps the best news pertaining to this growing treatment of choice is that there are no known side effects. So why not give it a chance?

What is Laser Therapy and How Can It Help My Pet?