Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. This is a pretty complicated term but when an acronym is made from these words we get LASER. Lasers as the full name suggest, use light in an enhanced form to do things. Some lasers are used for cutting, others for pointing at things during a presentation and still others allow us to listen to CDs on our stereo. We use lasers in veterinary medicine for some medical tasks, and at North Hill Animal Hospital we use light from our Therapeutic laser to help pets with all sorts of issues.
The therapeutic laser we use emits light waves in the ‘infrared’ region of the spectrum. These amplified light rays will penetrate through fur and skin to a depth of 5 cm or 2 inches. When used appropriately, our therapeutic laser can help sooth painful skin, help heal wounds and help relieve pain from back soreness and arthritis. The cool thing (literally) with this laser is pets typically feel nothing, and they can be fully awake during the treatment.
Laser light penetrates through skin and tissue (not bone) and changes the cells it passes through. The effects of the laser light on these cells causes them to work more efficiently. This allows the area being treated to be less swollen, have less pain and speed repair of the tissue. The immune defence response is also enhanced allowing the laser light to be used over infected skin to help it heal.
Arthritis is a common ailment of dogs and cats. When joints become sore from arthritis, there is lots of swelling in the affected joints. The swelling causes damage to the cartilage in the joint and this makes arthritis worse. Medication can help reduce swelling and works as long as the medication is taken. Laser therapy also works to reduce swelling, but this form of treatment has lasting effects.
Hot spots and skin irritations heal faster and are less painful when laser treatment is used. Inflamed gums treated with the laser are less painful, and sore backs due to disc disease become less sore with treatment. Laser therapy cannot be used for all problems. Eye issues, glandular issues (thyroid, adrenal) and any form of cancer cannot be treated with laser therapy since it can make these maladies worse.
Therapeutic laser treatment for pets is a great way to help relieve pain, swelling and inflammation from a variety of ailments. Talk to us if you think your pet could benefit from this type of treatment.
Written by Dr David Kerr, DVM