Cold laser therapy for dogs – what it is and how to use it

Dogs can suffer from a variety of medical conditions, from mild to severe, acute to chronic. Depending on the condition, the treatments are singular or combined, simple or complex, and can be represented by injections, surgery, medications, physiotherapy, laser therapy, etc.

In this article, we will focus on cold laser therapy, what it is and how to use it in dogs.

What is cold laser therapy for dogs?

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It is called “cold” laser therapy because the light levels that are used are too low to warm the tissues. Cold lasers are not the same as those used to destroy tumors or coagulate tissues.

Cold laser therapy uses light to increase blood flow to the tissues and stimulate cell regeneration. It is a non-invasive procedure that has no adverse effects on pets and can be used both in veterinary practices and at home by dog owners.

Lasers emit a beam of light that moves at a certain frequency, promoting cell healing and regeneration. Some cold lasers are programmed to operate at different frequencies to treat certain conditions in dogs.

This therapy is also called low-level laser therapy or Class IV laser therapy. Conceptually it is relatively new and is most often used to promote wound healing and treat dogs with arthritis and tendon or soft tissue damage.

Cold laser therapy is used to stimulate the natural healing process, so the body’s recovery occurs faster. The laser stimulates the dog’s body to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – the energy-carrying molecule found in the cells of all living creatures that allows cells to regenerate faster.

Cold laser therapy can treat or promote healing in sprains, acute and chronic injuries, swelling and pain caused by intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), otitis, arthritis, or musculoskeletal abnormalities. This therapy can also be used to regenerate nerves after surgery.

Most dogs find cold laser therapy soothing and relaxing and tend to enjoy the treatment.

How to use cold laser therapy for dogs

In a typical treatment session with a vet or by using a cold laser therapy device for dogs, the laser wand is applied to the area to be treated directly on the skin, not through clothes or bandages. There is no need to trim the area or sedate your dog during the process.

Always keep a distance of at least 0.5 inches between the lesion and the device in case of burns or open wounds.

Place the laser at right angles to the affected area without pressing hard, as it may not work properly.

Do not move the wand left or right, forward or backward, but keep it still until the set time expires.

The cold laser beam will penetrate your dog’s skin without causing pain or injury, being a non-invasive therapy. The dog’s cells will absorb light energy and turn it into cellular energy, which will lead to the suppression of pain and the reduction of inflammation in the affected area.

The whole procedure only takes a few minutes per session. Depending on the problem, a session can last from 6-8 minutes to 20-30 minutes for large dogs or extensive injuries. 

The results begin to show after the first sessions, and treatment can take up to 3 weeks, depending on the severity of the problem – usually, five or more treatments are recommended to resolve the problem. The treatment can be applied several times a day or several times a week.

Chronic and extensive lesions will require long periods of cold laser therapy to be remedied.

Depending on the condition, cold laser therapy can be combined with pharmaceutical treatment, but it is often used alone.

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