Class IV Laser Therapy - a Great New Tool for Treating Chronic Pain
Friendship Hospital for Animals is one of the few veterinary hospitals in the area now offering class IV laser therapy for dogs and cats. This powerful, pain-free and non-invasive treatment uses modulated infrared rays to help reduce pain and speed the healing of inflamed or damaged tissues.
Arthritis, degenerative joint disease, fractures, joint problems and some soft tissue injuries are among the conditions for which we recommend laser therapy. In most cases, the results have been remarkable. (For a dogís eye view of this treatment, you are invited to read Nietzscheís story in the Friendship Tails blog.)
Laser therapy is also now a standard part of our post-surgery protocol, thanks to its ability to reduce pain and significantly speed the time it takes for incisions to heal. Except in cases where it is contraindicated (such as the removal of suspected cancerous masses), we now administer the treatment after every operation performed at the hospital. Patients that have had orthopedic surgery receive at least one additional session, while they are still in the hospital.
What are some of the conditions that can be treated with laser therapy?
- Arthritis/Degenerative Joint Disease
- Muscle, ligament and tendon injuries
- Sprains and strains
- Hip dysplasia
- Ulcerations and open wounds
- Post-surgical and soft tissue trauma
- Back and neck pain
- Neuromuscular disease
How do I find out if itís right for my pet?
If your cat or dog has limited mobility or suffers from chronic pain, laser therapy might help. Talk with us during your petís next physical exam - or schedule an appointment right now to discuss the treatment. Click here to download a consent form.
What is a typical course of treatment like?
Your veterinarian will develop a treatment schedule that is customized to your petís needs. Very often, the treatments are performed on a "3-2-1" schedule: three treatments the first week, two treatments the second week, and one in the third week. After this initial series is completed, it may be necessary to bring your pet back for booster treatments depending on his response. For even more information on laser therapy, download these Frequently Asked Questions.
How soon will my pet feel relief?
Because laser therapy is cumulative in nature, a series of visits is required to get the greatest benefit. That said, in many cases a degree of improvement will be seen after the first visit. In general, the majority of patients will show greater comfort and improved mobility twelve to 24 hours after each treatment.
Friendship clients whose pets have been treated report great results. Often they are able to cut down on-or even eliminate-pain medications like Rimadyl and Tramadol. "She just seems more like herself these days," is a phrase that crops up frequently.
What happens when my pet gets treated?
Each session takes ten or fifteen minutes to complete, depending on the number of areas treated. The therapy is performed by one of Friendshipís specially trained animal care technicians. You are welcome to stay with your pet during treatment.
The laser operator uses a hand-held probe to apply laser energy to targeted area, using a scanning, grid-like pattern. The laser unit makes beeping sounds - lower than normal conversation volume - to indicate laser operation and the transition between phases of continuous or pulsing energy.
Because the treatment is painless, anesthesia is not required, thus avoiding the associated risk and expense. For most patients, the therapy does not require sedation. Pets may go home immediately after treatment.
Click here to view a video showing dogs being treated with laser therapy.
What does it feel like?
The treatment is entirely pain-free. The patient experiences a mild warmth or tingling sensation. A majority of patients exhibit greater comfort and mobility within 12 to 24 hours after a laser treatment.
Will my pet need to have its coat shaved for the treatments?
In most cases, we do shave the treatment area. Hair in the treatment area may scatter or absorb the healing light, and dense coats may limit the contact of the laser probe with the skin.
Is it really safe?
The FDA has approved class IV laser therapy for use in humans and animals. It is painless, non-invasive and non-addictive. Friendship takes appropriate precautions and provides specialized eyewear to protect the eyes of the patient, viewer and operator.
Tell me more about the science behind the treatment
Infrared laser light interacts with tissues at a cellular level, increasing metabolic activity within the cells and improving the transport of nutrients across the cell membrane. This initiates the increased production of cellular energy that leads to a cascade of beneficial effects, increasing cellular function and health.
As the photons of laser light penetrate deeply into tissue, the energy available to the individual cells increases. With more energy available, the cells are able to speed the process of absorbing nutrients and flushing out waste products, thus accelerating the growth and healing of tissue. Exposure to laser light helps repair tendons, ligaments and muscles.
Laser light also stimulates the development of fibroblasts, the building blocks of collagen, the essential protein required to replace old tissue or to repair tissue injuries. This is why itís so helpful in treating tissue damage from cuts, scratches, burns and surgery.
Laser Therapy Consent Form
Click here to download a laser therapy consent form. Save time by filling it out before you bring your pet in for treatment.