When you think of lasers, surgical cutting lasers may come to mind, but therapeutic lasers are also becoming increasingly common in veterinary medicine. Used widely in equine sports medicine for years, laser therapy is gaining traction in the small animal world, providing numerous health benefits to dogs, cats, and small exotic pets. Discover how laser therapy can help your pet heal by reading our Tamberly Animal Hospital team’s guide to this powerful treatment modality.

What is laser therapy for pets?

Therapeutic lasers emit specific light wavelengths designed to stimulate the body’s cellular processes. Essentially, laser therapy works at a cellular level to enhance healing and provide pain relief. Various wavelengths penetrate tissues’ varying depths, providing effective treatment for superficial skin wounds, down to deep bone fractures.

What are the benefits of laser therapy for pets?

Laser therapy alleviates pets’ pain and promotes healing, making this treatment modality an incredibly useful tool for various needs. When undergoing laser therapy, your pet can experience the following benefits:

  • A quicker healing rate for injuries and infections
  • Increased circulation
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Improved tissue metabolism
  • Reduced scar tissue formation
  • Immunoregulation
  • Improved nerve function
  • Nerve regeneration
  • Endorphin release
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Vasodilation

Laser therapy is a drug-free, surgery-free, and noninvasive treatment modality that is ideal for almost every pet. Pets who benefit the most from laser therapy are those who cannot metabolize drugs well because of organ dysfunction, cannot undergo surgery because of anesthetic risks, do not tolerate oral or injectable medications, or cannot undergo other treatments.

What conditions can laser therapy treat in pets?

Laser therapy has an impressive range of applications, as it is a benign treatment that can help heal virtually any inflammatory condition. Laser therapy is used to treat these common conditions:

  • Postoperative repairs
  • Bone fractures
  • Tendon and ligament injuries
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Gingivitis
  • Ear infections
  • Anal gland inflammation
  • Allergies
  • Lick granulomas

While laser therapy can be used for most pet health issues, this treatment modality has a few limitations. Laser therapy is not recommended for use on pets who are pregnant or have malignant tumors, or around the eyes. 

What occurs during my pet’s laser therapy sessions?

During your pet’s laser therapy sessions, they may become so comfortable and relaxed that they fall asleep. First, our Tamberly Animal Hospital team will identify your pet’s problem areas. For example, we will plot out the most painful joints if your furry pal is suffering from arthritis, or determine if one or both ears need treatment for allergy-triggered inflammation. We will then set up your furry pal in a cozy space to relax, and that allows us enough room to move around and treat your pet’s condition.

The length of your pet’s laser therapy session depends on the condition being treated and the number of spots requiring therapy. Superficial issues, such as skin infections and ear inflammation, require a shorter treatment length. However, a condition such as osteoarthritis needs a much longer treatment time to allow the light to penetrate the deep tissues and bones. Pets with osteoarthritis may need their elbows, hips, knees, and spine treated, while pets with allergies may only require therapy on their ears and a hot spot.

What results can I expect after my pet’s laser therapy session?

Laser therapy results are cumulative. Each session further spurs healing cellular processes, so your pet may not exhibit improvement after the first session, however, important healing is taking place at a microscopic level.

Typically, a pet with an acute issue, such as a surgical incision or ear infection, needs several sessions in a short period, such as daily or every other day for a week or until they show improvement. Pets with chronic problems, such as osteoarthritis, benefit most from an initial laser loading dose that may consist of weekly or biweekly treatments for a month, tapering off to monthly or quarterly sessions.

If your pet is not getting the relief they need through traditional veterinary medicine or simply needs a healing boost to resolve an acute condition, they may be an excellent candidate for laser therapy. To determine whether your four-legged friend would benefit from laser therapy, schedule an appointment with our Tamberly Animal Hospital team.