All pet owners want to make their pet as comfortable as possible after a surgery or injury. Historically, that meant drugs to relieve pain. But now, there is a growing field of rehabilitation medicine available for our furry friends. New techniques can be used in conjunction with medications to provide the best quality of life. One relatively new option is the use of therapeutic lasers to speed healing and provide relief. At the Animal Clinic of Morris Plains, we have a class IV therapeutic laser available on site.
What is a laser?
The word laser is actually an acronym for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Lasers emit what is essentially a focused form of light, what is called monochromatic, collimated, and coherent light. Monochromatic means that all the light rays have the same wavelength. Collimated means that all the light rays are going the same direction. And finally, coherent means that all the waves are lined up with each other. Lasers are used for a variety of industrial and medical applications, but we’ll focus on medical therapeutic lasers.
How does it work?
Therapeutic lasers act on tissue through a process called photobiomodulation. Light is absorbed by molecules called chromophores inside cells. Some of these molecules are involved in cellular respiration, the process by which cells transfer nutrients to usable energy. As light is absorbed by these chromophores, the process of cellular respiration is accelerated.
Overall, photobiomodulation has four major effects at a tissue level:
Faster cell growth and tissue repair
Together, these mean that therapeutic lasers don’t just provide temporary relief. They actually help the body to heal itself better, and shorten the time necessary for that healing to occur.
What are therapeutic lasers used for?
Therapeutic lasers can be helpful in a variety of medical conditions. Almost any inflammatory or mechanical injury can benefit from photobiomodulation. Some common uses include
At the Animal Clinic of Morris Plains, we have several technicians who are trained to administer laser treatments. Your pet will be awake and comfortable during the procedure. Most pets do not seem to notice the laser itself, which may produce a slight tingling sensation, or nothing at all.
The dosage and duration of application is precisely calculated for each condition. The technician will hold the laser probe over the skin, and move it in a grid pattern over the affected area. If it is being used on a joint, they may gently move the limb through some range of motion exercises.
Both the technician and your pet will wear special safety goggles. Although there are no harmful effects of the laser on most of the body, direct contact of the laser beam with the eye should be avoided.
How often should my pet receive laser therapy?
That depends on the specific condition. For acute issues, laser therapy can be used up to once a day for several days. For management of long term conditions, the therapy will typically start out at several times per week. The frequency of treatment is typically gradually reduced to the minimum amount needed to provide relief.
If you have any other questions about our laser, please do not hesitate to ask. We’re excited to have another way to help our patients get better faster!
Johnson, J. (2016). An Introduction to Laser Therapy in Veterinary Practice. Pacific Veterinary Conference 2016. Retrieved September 14, 2017, from www.vin.com.
Mason, D. (2016). The Use of Laser Therapy. British Small Animal Veterinary Congress 2016. Retrieved September 14, 2017, from www.vin.com
Dr. Paul has a strong interest in avian and exotic animal medicine and surgery, as well as small animal internal medicine and surgery.
He has provided services for numerous breeders, kennels, aviaries, and mini zoos.