Photobiomodulation (the scientific term for what is commonly called “cold laser therapy” or “low-level laser therapy”) is a non-invasive, quickly delivered pain relief tool that expedites healing and regeneration without side effects.
It uses light waves to stimulate the mitochondria (the powerhouse of our cells) to activate energy production and produce beneficial growth factors along with other signaling molecules.
This leads to a reduction of pain, inflammation, and swelling which creates expedited wound healing and an overall improvement in immune system function.
This technology has been utilized in other countries for decades and is FDA approved in the US.
Conditions that benefit from photobiomodulation therapy
Arthritis and back pain (regardless of whether the underlying cause is from a disease involving bone or soft tissue)
Wounds (acute, chronic, infected) or non-healing sites of inflammation
Inflammation of the intestines, pancreas, bladder, lungs
Ear and skin infections
Acute and chronic kidney disease
Frequently asked questions
Does laser therapy really work for dogs and cats?
Yes! Laser therapy helps to promote the healing of damaged tissues while also decreasing inflammation, muscle spasms, edema, and pain that is present. It is a non-invasive way to support our pets, and the results are often seen within hours after the sessions.
Photobiomodulation stimulates cells to increase their energy production, helps to dilate blood vessels to get nutrients and oxygen to areas that have an increased need for it, and helps not only increase wound healing but also the strength of the tissues involved.
How often should my dog get laser therapy?
For diseases like arthritis and tendinopathies, laser is often recommended daily for 2 weeks, or every other day for 3-4 weeks to achieve optimum results.
For acute disease, like wounds or support after surgery laser is performed daily while in hospital and then continued 1-3 times weekly for the first few weeks of recovery. In some situations, we choose to treat on an as needed basis, depending on the daily comfort of the dog or cat to determine the frequency of treatment to keep them comfortable.
Can I do laser therapy for my dog at home?
There are different classes of lasers that are used with animals, but the most common are class 3b and class 4. The difference is in the amount of power (Joules) that is delivered to the tissues, how fast it is delivered, and the safety and expertise involved in using the laser.
Clients are able to purchase lower-level lasers (3R and sometimes 3B) but caution should be used when untrained individuals are utilizing 3B lasers as damage to the eye can occur.
At Crystal Lotus Veterinary Care we use a top-of-the-line Class IV medical photobiomodulation (laser) unit, that has multiple wavelengths and adaptive modifications to treat your pet effectively and efficiently.
Many veterinary practitioners utilizing lasers are using a lower power laser (Class 3b) which means that your pet will be limited in the amount of healing energy that can stimulate their tissues and provide pain relief.
For example, a lower-power laser that can be purchased for use at home delivers the same amount of healing energy in 60 seconds that a class IV laser provides in 5 seconds. When you are treating a large surface area, or treating a larger dog the lower-level lasers are often not effective enough to see measured improvement.
Can lasers hurt dogs or cats?
Laser therapy when performed properly should never hurt your pet. It is a gentle, warm sensation but if your animal is experiencing pain it most likely means that the setting needs to be further customized to your pet, or they may require a more experienced individual to perform the sessions.
In general, we do not recommend using laser therapy over areas of cancer, over the areas of the bone that are growing in young animals (growth plates), and over the belly area of any pregnant animals.
We are always very protective of the pet and pet parent’s eyes during treatment- we have goggles for humans, and “doggles” for dogs and cats!
Does laser therapy help dogs and cats with arthritis?
It is very helpful for pets that are suffering from arthritis. Laser therapy can help by :
Decreasing inflammation and fluid built up in tissues
Reducing the nervous system’s involvement in the communication of pain from the site of arthritis to the brain. In chronic pain, the nervous system often overcommunicates the discomfort being felt at the site of disease and this leads to advanced pain that compromises the comfort of the pet
Increasing the release of the body’s natural painkillers (beta-endorphins)
Stimulating acupuncture points when used properly by a trained professional