Bodies are amazing—they have the systems and machinery to literally heal themselves, although sometimes they need modern medicine’s help to speed up the healing process and be more efficient. Laser therapy covers both of these bases and has been proven an ideal treatment for a myriad of pet injuries, diseases, and conditions. But, how can a light effectively treat anything? For the skeptics out there, the Walnut Creek Veterinary Hospital team explains in their pet owners’ laser therapy guide how and why the laser works.

How does laser therapy work for pets?

The scientific principle behind laser therapy is called photobiomodulation. Energy from the laser, usually a red or near-infrared wavelength, penetrates the tissues and stimulates the energy system inside the individual cells. With more energy, the cells work and reproduce more efficiently. Photobiomodulation can induce several benefits, including:

  • Reduced inflammation — Chemical signals that perpetuate inflammation are suppressed.
  • Reduced pain — Endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, are released and pain-signaling nerves are soothed.
  • Increased circulation — Blood and lymph vessels dilate to bring healing oxygen to tissues and help drain fluid and swelling.
  • Rapid healing — New blood vessels form, cells replicate and migrate faster, and collagen production increases.

Which pet ailments respond best to laser therapy?

Laser therapy can improve any condition involving inflammation, pain, infection, or a healing process. Common uses include:

  • Surgical incisions
  • Arthritis
  • Orthopedic injuries
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Skin or wound infections
  • Non-healing wounds
  • Severe insect bites or stings
  • Allergies
  • Ear infections
  • Nerve injuries

Is pet laser therapy safe?

The beauty of laser therapy lies in its lack of side effects. The few risks include eye damage if the laser is shone directly into the eye, but we use special goggles to prevent this. Other risks include fetal damage during pregnancy or accidental tumor stimulation. Pregnant females and pets with cancer or suspected cancer should not receive laser therapy. Because side effects and risks are minimal, laser therapy is an ideal alternative to medications or surgeries for patients with other complicating medical conditions or as an adjunct to other therapies.

Is pet laser therapy expensive?

Fortunately, laser therapy is affordable for most pet owners. A trained team member will treat your pet in our hospital, usually in 20 minutes or less. Pets do not require sedation or special positioning, which means each session is cost-effective. Most acute-injury pets benefit from a series of treatments and may require periodic maintenance sessions for the best outcomes. Bundled services are available to reduce costs.

Why choose laser therapy over other treatments for pets?

Another laser therapy advantage is that the therapy does not eliminate other options—you can combine the laser with nearly any Western or alternative veterinary treatments. Your pet will have no side effects, downtime, or pills to take at home. Because laser treatments do not involve needles, pain, or restraint, and often induce relaxation, pets who visit frequently for laser sessions develop positive hospital associations, which will make future veterinary care easier and less stressful.

What should I expect from a laser therapy treatment?

Laser therapy treatments are quick and soothing for most pets, who are allowed to find a comfortable position in the exam room, and the pet owner can stay by their side for their comfort. A trained technician will bring the equipment to the pet, set the machine to the desired strength and time window as prescribed by the veterinarian, and perform the treatment by moving the laser handpiece continuously over the target tissues. The laser produces a slight warming sensation when used correctly, which relaxes muscles but causes no pain.

Can I purchase a laser for home use?

Unfortunately, lasers sold for at-home use are seldom strong enough to significantly affect healing or inflammation, because medical-grade lasers are available only to qualified practitioners, and incorrect use could harm your pet. With in-office treatments, you get the effectiveness and safety of a veterinarian-prescribed protocol and trained personnel.

The science of photobiomodulation is clear—laser therapy works to help pets heal and move more comfortably. Contact Walnut Creek Veterinary Hospital for more information about our laser therapy protocols, or to schedule a consultation with our knowledgeable team and help your furry pal on the path to recovery.