There are a growing number of veterinary practices incorporating the use of Class IV lasers, or therapeutic lasers, into their protocols for pain management. Class IV lasers use a specific wavelength of light to penetrate into tissues, causing positive changes in our pets at the cellular level.
Class IV lasers make our pets feel better by tackling a multitude of issues. During a single laser treatment, all of this is happening:
- Decreased inflammation. Blood and lymph vessels are dilated, increasing blood circulation and decreasing swelling. Laser therapy also decreases the production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins.
- Decreased pain. Nerve sensitivity is decreased and the production of naturally pain relieving endorphins is increased.
- Accelerated healing. Light photons penetrate into targeted tissues to accelerate cellular reproduction and growth.
- Decreased scarring from the decreased production of fibrous tissue.
- Increased nerve function. Laser therapy speeds up nerve regeneration and aids nerve cell reconnection.
With all of these benefits, there are an endless number of pet health conditions that can be treated with a therapeutic laser. Naturally, we think first of our pets who suffer from chronic pain from osteoarthritis or intervertebral disk disease. These dogs and cats are perfect candidates for laser therapy, and I’ve treated quite a few of these patients myself and have been amazed at the results.
But thinking outside the box also works here. Almost any cause of acute or chronic pain can be treated with a therapeutic laser, from nerve injuries and degenerative myelopathy to tendon or ligament injuries and fractures (not to mention post-operative therapy after orthopedic surgery).
Because therapeutic lasers accelerate healing, they can be used on incisions directly after surgery – even surgeries as “routine” as spays and neuters can benefit. The same principle applies to other skin conditions that need to heal, such as burns, lacerations, hot spots, and even pesky lick granulomas.
The possibilities are numerous when it comes to therapeutic lasers. I’ve heard of them used in feline stomatitis cases as well as stubborn feline cystitis cases, both of which can plague our cat friends for years. While there are few published veterinary studies regarding the efficacy of therapeutic lasers, anecdotal evidence abounds.
If your pet has sustained an injury or has chronic discomfort, ask your veterinarian if he might benefit from Class IV laser therapy. Generally, sessions are fifteen to twenty minutes long, and the number of sessions your pet will require varies. A typical schedule would include twice a week sessions for a month, and then sessions could be tapered off depending on your pet’s response. Petplan pet insurance covers this type of therapy, so no need to worry about the cost.