What is laser therapy for dogs and how does it work?

What is laser therapy for dogs and how does it work?

Veterinary laser therapy offers non-invasive, pain-free, surgery-free and drug-free treatment, it is used to treat a variety of conditions and can be performed in conjunction with existing treatments. Laser treatment uses light that penetrates deeply promoting a chain of chemical reactions known as photo-biostimulation [1]. This process helps relieve pain by releasing endorphins and leads wound cells to heal at an accelerated rate [2]. Although the improvement is often visible after the first treatment, the dog’s conditions will affect the frequency and duration of the laser therapy. The treatment time is variable, but generally it is between 5 and 30 minutes for each session. Each additional treatment facilitates an improvement in dog’s conditions.

Which types of conditions can be treated with laser therapy in dogs?

Laser therapy for dogs can be used to treat a multitude of ailments, including:
Muscle injuries, ligaments and tendons [3]muscle atrophy [4]Open wounds and ulcers [5]Arthritis / osteoarthritis [6]Fractures [7]

Laser therapy for pain relief
Laser treatments are an excellent way to provide pain relief. Laser therapy reduces pain by reducing inflammation through vasodilation [8] (opening of blood vessels) and also by activating the draining lymphatic system [9]. The result is a reduction in swelling that reduces pain. The laser also stimulates nerve cells that block painful signals from being transmitted to the brain, thus decreasing the sensitivity of the nerve [10]. Since there is less inflammation, less swelling and an interruption of pain signals to the brain, the dog will experience less pain. Laser treatments for dogs also stimulate the production of high levels of endorphins [11] naturally produced which further counteract the pain of the dog.

Laser therapy to recover from injury or surgery
Laser therapy for dogs is a very useful tool during post-surgery recovery. In minor cases, laser therapy alone can be sufficient to relieve pain and stimulate the healing process. Because it acts directly on the injured or affected areas, laser treatments can accelerate healing [12], strengthen muscles and tissues and improve your dog’s overall quality of life almost immediately.

Is laser treatment for dogs painful or inconvenient?
Laser treatment for dogs is totally pain free and very comforting. During the application of the laser the dog can perceive a gentle and soothing warmth, tingling or no sensation.
For many dogs, laser therapy is very relaxing. As the areas of pain or inflammation become less painful, any anxiety and tension that the animal may experience tends to decrease rapidly.

Are there any side effects of laser therapy for dogs?
Laser treatment for dogs has no known side effects and is considered safe and effective throughout the veterinary industry.

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[2] Karu T. Low-intensity laser light action upon fibroblasts and lymphocytes. In: Ohshiro T, Calderhead RG, editors. Progress in laser therapy. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley and Sons; 1991. p. 175–80.

[3] Ng GY, Fung DTC, Leung MCP, et al. Comparison of single and multiple applications of GaAlAs laser on rat medial collateral ligament repair. Lasers Surg Med 34:286–289, 2004

[4] Nakano J, Kataoka H, Sakamoto J, et al. Lowlevel laser irradiation promotes the recovery of atrophied gastrocnemius skeletal muscle in rats. Exp Physiol 94:1005–1015, 2009

[5] Gagnon D, Gibson TWG, Singh A, et al. An in vitro method to test the safety and efficacy of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in the healing of a canine skin model.BMC Vet Res 12:73, 2016

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[7] Ribeiro DA, Matsumoto MA. Low-level laser therapy improves bone repair in rats treated with anti-inflammatory drugs. J Oral Rehabil 35:925–933, 2008

[8] . Maeda T. Histological, thermographic and thermometric study in vivo and excised 830 nm diode laser irradiated rat skin. Laser Ther 1990;2(1):32

[9] Karu T. Low-intensity laser light action upon fibroblasts and lymphocytes. In: Ohshiro T, Calderhead RG, editors. Progress in laser therapy. Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley and Sons; 1991. p. 175–80.

[10] Cambier D, Blom K, Witvrouw E, et al. The influence of low intensity infrared laser irradiation on conduction characteristics of peripheral nerve: a randomised, controlled, double blind study on the sural nerve. Lasers Med Sci 2000;15(3): 195–200.

[11] Laakso EL, Cramond T, Richardson C, et al. ACTH and beta-endorphin levels in response to low level laser therapy for myofascial trigger points. Laser Ther 1994; 6(3):133–42

[12] . Peat FJ, Colbath AC, Bentsen LM, et al. In vitro effects of high-intensity laser photobiomodulation on equine bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cell viability and cytokine expression. Photomed Laser Surg 36:83–91, 2018