When your pet is in pain or suffering from a slow-healing wound or injury, you want to speed their recovery process as much as possible. Medications are certainly effective, but other treatment modalities work well in conjunction with pharmaceutical products to boost healing. Read our Central Houston Animal Hospital team’s guide to laser therapya beneficial treatment that produces minimal side effects. Unlike cutting surgical lasers, therapeutic lasers help reduce pets’ inflammation and pain, and stimulate the healing process at a cellular level.

How does laser therapy work in pets?

Therapeutic lasers modulate cellular functions through photobiomodulationa process in which a laser source’s protons interact with the targeted cells to stimulate or inhibit biochemical reactions. These reactions include increasing cellular circulation, stimulating the immune system, reducing inflammation, enhancing collagen production, and supporting muscle tissue development. The areas therapeutic lasers target vary based on the wavelength they emit. Lower wavelengths are absorbed by superficial tissue, such as the skin, whereas higher wavelengths penetrate deeper to muscles and bones.

What are the benefits of laser therapy for pets?

Laser therapy can be used for both acute and chronic conditions, and used safely long term to treat chronic cases. This treatment modality’s many benefits include:

  • Quicker tissue repair
  • Reduced inflammation and pain 
  • Nerve healing stimulation
  • Enhanced tendon, cartilage, and bone healing
  • Reduced swelling
  • Degenerative tissue change modulation
  • Some tissues’ Improved metabolism 

Not all laser therapy benefits have been discovered. However, this treatment modality’s advantages have already proven worthwhile for pets, and research on laser therapy’s additional benefits continues.

What conditions can laser therapy treat in pets?

Any inflammatory, painful, or trauma condition affecting the skin, ligaments, tendons, muscles, or bone can benefit from the healing boost laser therapy provides. Pets’ common issues treated with a therapeutic laser include:

  • Superficial and deep wounds
  • Cranial cruciate ligament ruptures
  • Tendon injuries
  • Edema
  • Lick granulomas
  • Muscle sprains and strains
  • Osteoarthritis and joint pain
  • Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)
  • Bone fractures
  • Nerve damage
  • Postoperative incisions
  • Tooth extraction sites
  • Ear inflammation and hematomas
  • Anal gland inflammation

Laser therapy is also beneficial for pets with organ dysfunction who cannot safely take many medications, and for cats who do not have many available medicinal options. Although laser therapy seems appropriate for any pet health issue, this treatment modality should not be used in some instances, such as over cancerous tumors or on pregnant pets. Laser therapy should also not be used on pets’ eyes.

What will my pet experience during a laser therapy session?

Most tolerate this treatment modality well. A typical laser therapy session can last anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the body area and number of sites being treated. Acute, superficial conditions, such as surgical incisions, are treated for the least amount of time per site, whereas deeper body areas affected by chronic conditions, such as arthritic joints, may be treated for a minute or two over each site. Pets generally tolerate laser therapy well—sitting or lying comfortably during the session. However, some pets may balk at holding still during the entire session.  

How many laser therapy sessions will my pet need?

A pet with an acute condition may require daily laser therapy sessionsor every other dayuntil the issue is resolved. A pet with a chronic condition generally requires a loading dose that consists of several treatments close togetherpotentially, daily for a week or once weeklyuntil the condition has improved. After an acute condition has been resolved or a chronic issue has improved, your veterinarian may perform treatments as neededmonthly, quarterly, or whenever your pet needs more pain relief. 

Does laser therapy cause side effects in pets?

Laser therapy is one of the few treatment modalities that is drug-free, surgery-free, and pain-free. This noninvasive treatment has no known adverse side effects, and your pet will not need any recovery period after a laser therapy session. Depending on your pet’s condition and response to treatment, they may require multiple sessions before they show appreciable improvement, or your pet may exhibit reduced pain signs and increased mobility after only a session or two.

Pets with painful or inflammatory chronic conditions or those who are healing from an injury or surgery are great laser therapy candidates. Contact our Central Houston Animal Hospital team to determine if your pet would benefit from laser therapy.