Pet owners are always looking for ways to ensure their furry friends are as healthy and comfortable as possible. One area of recent interest has been the potential for cold laser therapy for cats and dogs to provide pain relief and promote healing.
While more studies and research are required to determine the full potential and efficacy of this therapy, there is some evidence that it may provide significant benefits for pets suffering from various conditions.
What Is Laser Therapy?
Laser therapy, also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT), cold laser therapy, or photobiomodulation (PBM), is a painless, non-invasive treatment using low-level lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to stimulate cellular activity and promote healing.
It works by increasing circulation and drawing oxygen and nutrients to the damaged area, which helps reduce inflammation and pain while promoting healing. Depending on the condition being treated, many different wavelengths and intensities can be used.
During a laser therapy session, the therapist will direct a beam of light onto the area of the body being treated. The laser’s light energy penetrates the tissue and is absorbed by cells in the body.
This triggers a biological response within the cells that reduces inflammation and promotes healing.
What Are the Benefits of Laser Therapy for Dogs?
One of the most promising potential benefits of laser therapy is its ability to provide pain relief for dogs. Other benefits include:
- Reduced inflammation
- Faster healing
- Reduced pain
- Increased circulation
- Stimulated production of collagen
What Does Research Say?
Though more studies are necessary to confirm the effectiveness of laser therapy, preliminary studies suggest that it may be beneficial for treating various conditions in dogs.
A 2019 study evaluated nine dogs that had undergone thoraco-lumbar hemilaminectomies for intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). They used laser therapy daily for seven days on their incision. The study found that laser therapy improved incision healing and the cosmetic appearance.
For rehabilitation, the efficacy of lasers on tissues is not entirely understood. However, it has been shown to modulate cellular functions. For instance, lasers help modulate many biologic processes that enhance muscle regeneration.
A 2013 study looked at the potential positive impact of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) to treat tendinopathies. The study found that LLLT effectively reduced pain and promoted healing in tendinopathies, with the most significant effects seen in Achilles tendinopathy.
Side Effects of Laser Therapy for Dogs
Laser therapy is considered safe with few if any, side effects. The most common side effect is temporary mild discomfort during the treatment, which generally disappears shortly after the session.
Possible side effects of laser therapy include:
- Allergic reactions (rare)
If your pet experiences any side effects from laser therapy, they should be temporary and resolve quickly. Ensure to ask your vet if you have any concerns.
When Should You Consider Laser Therapy for Your Dog?
If your dog experiences pain or discomfort from an injury or chronic condition, laser therapy may be an option to help ease their symptoms. If you consulted a veterinary internist for some issues with your pet, they might have recommended this treatment.
The key is to start early with this therapy. Many vets who offer laser therapy recommend starting treatment immediately after your dog has been injured or diagnosed with a condition to help speed up the healing process and prevent further damage.
As a pet owner, you are not only responsible for your cat and dog vaccinations. You also consider their overall health and wellbeing. This means that you should explore all possible treatment options, including laser therapy, to ensure that your pet is getting the best possible care.
Though more research is necessary to confirm its efficacy, laser therapy is generally considered safe with few side effects. Speak with your vet if you believe your pet could benefit from this therapy.