In the past year, North Lake Veterinary has be offering Therapeutic Laser Therapy and seeing some great results. I still get a lot of questions about what therapeutic laser is and what it actually does, so I’ve decided to devote my next blog to laser information. Lets start with some basic info.
What is Therapeutic Laser Therapy?
Laser therapy is a new modality to treat a variety of problems without the worry of unwanted side effects. It is a very safe procedure that takes about 6-8 minutes to perform on the affected body site. It is not painful and many pets enjoy their laser sessions. We often hear feedback after laser sessions like “He’s acting like a puppy again”, or “She’s actually purring again and I hadn’t heard that in months”.
What is Therapeutic Laser used for??
-Arthritis, degenerative joint disease, hip dysplasia
-General pain management (sprains, strains, stiffness)
-Post surgical pain/inflammation (spays, neuters, declaws, dentals)
-Skin problems (hot spots, lick granulomas, infections)
-Fractures and wounds
How does therapeutic laser work?
The Laser stimulates the body to heal from within. Non-thermal photons of light are delivered to the problem body location and are absorbed by the injured cells. The cells then respond with a higher rate of metabolism, resulting in pain relief, increased circulation, reduced inflammation, and quicker healing.
Lets check out a few pets that have benefitted from laser therapy and take a look at a typical laser session.
Meet Daisy, a 5 year old Coton du Tulear
Daisy’s owner, April, noticed her shaking and having difficulty walking. She also saw Daisy cry out at one point. She took her to see Dr Gilligan. He noted back pain and saw that Daisy would drag her hind limb and not place it properly during the neurological exam. X-rays were taken of Daisy’s spine and she was diagnosed with intervertebral disc disease (inflamed disc in her back). In some dogs, an inflamed disc can be severe enough to warrant surgery but Daisy seemed to respond to pain medications, steroids and laser therapy. Daisy did quite well with laser and after 6 treatments and a few weeks of medications she was much improved. Yet a few months later, Daisy came back in to see Dr Oliver for skin issues and April also mentioned that she was seeing some signs of back pain again. It was recommended that Daisy continue with laser therapy sessions to help manage her chronic back pain. Now April is very familiar with the symptoms of Daisy’s back pain and she schedules Daisy’s laser sessions accordingly. April reports that Daisy seems to feel better after her laser sessions. She has never seen any negative side effects and she does think it helps her. We also have chronic back pain patients that do scheduled laser sessions to try to prevent back pain flare ups.
Meet Athena, a 3 year old black lab.
Athena was believed to be hit by a car and had deep open wounds that couldn’t be closed with sutures. We managed her wounds with medication and frequent bandage changes until they healed on their own . Laser therapy sessions also seemed to help speed the healing process. Her owner recently emailed me ” Thank you so much for suggesting the laser. I think it made all the difference in allowing that wound to close.”
she always had a smile for us
Jenny, Charlie’s owner, brought 3 different ear medications that she had tried from other vets but she explained nothing was helping. When I examined Charlie’s ear, he was so painful and so inflamed, that it was difficult to even see his ear drum. Because Charlie had not responded to previous antibiotics we took a sample of his ear discharge and cultured it (grew the bacteria to see what it was). We then performed sensitivity testing on the bacteria to find the best antibiotic options. We tested 16 different antibiotic options and his bacteria was resistant to 9 of these. It became clear why Charlie’s ear infections hadn’t resolved in the past.
I also discussed reasons for ear infections with Jenny. The most common reason for ear infections that I see is allergy, either an food allergy or an environmental allergy or a combination of both. This can be difficult for most people to understand because we have a very different allergy reaction center in our bodies. Humans respond to allergies with their respiratory system, getting sniffling, sneezing, runny eyes, etc. Dogs respond to allergies with their skin system, getting ear infections, skin infections and anal gland infections. We decided to start Charlie on a hypoallergenic food and fortunately he really liked the prescription rabbit diet we chose for him. We started Charlie on an oral antibiotic and a topical antibiotic chosen from the culture sensitivity results and planned to see Charlie back in 2 weeks for a recheck. He had also been started on a steroid to help with the inflammation of his ear and to help decrease his allergy as well.
I saw Charlie back for his recheck and again his ear still looked horrible. Jenny and I were both discouraged but we decided to culture again- it just didn’t make sense. This time we grew a second bacteria as well as the original bacteria and there were only 2 antibiotic options that would kill both of these bugs. We scheduled Charlie for a Med Rx Ear Otoscopic Flushing under anesthesia where we use a scope to go into Charlie’s ear and clean out all the discharge.
Click Here (https://youtu.be/fy_RSAifrgs) to see a video done at a different vet clinic of a similar Med Rx ear cleaning procedure where wax is being removed from the ear canal.
Afterwards, we special ordered a different ear medication and we started Charlie on laser therapy treatments for his ear. The laser therapy helped decreased the inflammation and infection, allowing Charlie’s ear to heal. Within the next month of medication and laser treatments, Charlie’s ear cleared up completely and Charlie was a much happier dog! We were all ecstatic for him. He continued to do laser treatments on and off. He continued his hypoallergenic food and a once a week topical steroid drop into his ear. Jenny reported in a recent email,”As you know Charlie did the laser for his ears. I really think he liked it and it seemed to help his issues (along with the other remedies). I used to laugh that he was going for his “spa day” when he had the laser treatment”. It is now over a year and a half later and Charlie’s ear has been great. Definitely a success story for him.
Laser Therapy Pet Picture Montage
In conclusion, laser therapy is another modality that we can utilize to provide the best care to our patients. As you can see, some patients require more than one type of treatment to address their problems and now that we have a therapeutic laser, we have another tool in our toolbox. Laser therapy is excellent in that it does not seem to have any negative side effects and pets even seem to enjoy it!
Next time your pet has an issue, ask your vet if therapeutic laser could help?