What Is Laser Therapy For Dogs And How Does It Work?

Dog Laser TherapyAt Boca Park Animal Hospital, we pride ourselves with always searching for new ways to care for your dog especially where pain is concerned. Veterinary laser therapy provides a non-invasive, pain-free, surgery-free and drug-free treatment that is used to treat a variety of conditions, and can be performed in conjunction with existing treatments. Laser treatment for dogs employs deep-penetrating light to promote a chain of chemical reactions known as photobiostimulation. This process helps relieve pain through the release of endorphins, and it stimulates injured cells to heal at an accelerated pace.

Although improvement is often seen after the first visit, your dog's condition will influence how often and long laser therapy is necessary. Treatments vary in length, but most sites require 3 to 8 minutes. Laser treatments for dogs are cumulative, so each additional treatment facilitates a greater improvement in your dog's condition. The length and frequency of treatments vary by condition, so allow your veterinarian to help devise a sufficient laser treatment schedule for your canine companion.

Cold Laser Therapy For Dogs

Laser therapy, also may be referred to as Cold Laser, Low-Level Laser or Class IV Laser Therapy. Each of these terms refers to the same therapy, using the same equipment to stimulates cell regeneration and increase blood circulation.

What Types Of Conditions Can Dog Laser Therapy Be Used To Treat?

Dog laser therapy can be used to treat a multitude of ailments, including:

  • Muscle, ligament and tendon injuries
  • Post-surgical and soft tissue trauma
  • Back pain
  • Ear infections
  • Gingivitis
  • Hot Spots and open wounds
  • Arthritis / hip dysplasia
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Anal gland infections

Many of our veterinary therapy patients are older animals with musculoskeletal ailments. Some signs that your senior companion is experiencing pain or discomfort are:

  • Abnormal sitting or lying posture
  • Circling multiple times before lying down
  • Restlessness
  • Whining, groaning or other vocalizations
  • Limping, unable to get up or lie down
  • Difficulty getting into car or down stairs
  • Lack of grooming
  • Won't wag tail
  • Licking or biting area
  • Lack of appetite
  • Trembling


Featured Quote:

So with laser therapy, the laser light actually penetrates into the tissue and brings blood flow into the tissue

Video Transcript:

Dr. Jaclyn Wolinski

Boca Park Animal Hospital


Dr. Wolinski:

Hi, I'm Dr. Wolisnki From Boca Park Animal Hospital. Sometimes, our clients ask us why we recommend laser therapy for our patients, so we've composed a list of frequently-asked-questions. My nurse, Paula, is going to read some of them, and I'm going to answer them.


Dr. Wolinski, how is laser therapy used to relieve pain?

Dr. Wolinski:

So with laser therapy, the laser light actually penetrates into the tissue and brings blood flow into the tissue. And so with that blood flow comes cell mediators that help with healing and decreasing inflammation. And also, it speeds the removal of toxins like lactic acid buildup in muscle spasms. By doing that and by using different wavelengths, they penetrate to different levels.

We actually use a four-wavelength laser here at Boca Park, and it reaches basically every type of tissue in the body, so it can be used for incision healing after surgery, for wounds, for back pain (like dogs that have bulging discs), for muscle spasms, and for arthritis.


What are some of the signs that my dog may be experiencing pain or is in discomfort?

Dr. Wolinski:

So that one can be tough, and we usually go over that a lot in the exam room. While we do our physical exam, we usually can find some indications of that. Patients tend to be pretty stoic, so they don't always cry. Sometimes they're just a little more sluggish or lethargic. They might not want to play as much, or they might get a little cranky. So things that you normally think that they would do, if they're not doing those anymore, that can be a sign of pain. Hiding and having less appetite can be signs as well.


Who will perform my dog's laser therapy?

Dr. Wolinski:

So most of the time, our nurses will actually provide the treatment. Our laser is set up sort of pre-programmed. So we program it for each individual patient, and the doctor will prescribe what program they want to use for that patient and how frequently they want it done.


What happens during the laser treatment?

Dr. Wolinski:

So as I just described, we pre-program the laser based on what we're treating. And then first, we get your pet fitted with laser safety goggles, which is actually a really cute photo op usually, but the laser light can actually hurt your retina. So anybody in the room, including the patient, needs to wear goggles. So we start there, we program the laser, and then we press the button and get started.

Depending on the size of the patient or the area we're treated, it does affect the length of time for the treatment. So smaller patients, smaller area—it's going to be maybe only a couple of minutes. We do have a very powerful laser here, so that allows us to decrease the length of treatment time. But obviously, a bigger dog with a larger area, it's going to take a little bit more time. So for example, a dog - a large dog - if we're treating the back, each area of the spine might take five minutes or less. But if we're treating, say, a little Chihuahua with the incision after a neuter, it might only take a minute or a minute and a half.


How will my dog feel during the treatment?

Dr. Wolinski:

Actually, a lot of patients really like it so, usually, you'll actually visibly be able to see them relax. It is considered to be cold laser therapy but, as I said, the laser we use here is very powerful, so we do keep it moving so there are no risks of burns or anything like that. But sometimes, there is a little bit of soft-tissue warming, and so a lot of patients really like that. They'll relax during the treatment. Sometimes, they'll lay their head down or start panting, but the owners usually see that the patient is more relaxed right after.


Are there any risks, side effects, or complications with laser therapy?

Dr. Wolinski:

Generally not. As I said, it is a powerful laser that we use, so we take the precautions to keep the laser moving so there's no risk of burns. We set the laser depending on the patient's hair coat, whether it's light or dark, and there are certain things that we don't laser—the biggest one is cancer. We cannot laser around cancer, and it can actually make things a lot worse. But in general, there are really no side effects. It's a very, very safe treatment.


How would I expect my dog to act after we get home from the laser therapy appointment?

Dr. Wolinski:

So again, usually, most patients feel a little bit more relaxed after, so they may go home and take a nap, actually, because they feel better already. But other than that, you may not notice any changes right away. We hope that depending on what we're treating, like if we're treating chronic pain, sometimes it can take a couple of treatments to really see the full effect. So we always want to see positive improvement. So maybe a quick rest when they get home, and then maybe feeling a little perky, or moving a little bit smoother, or feeling a little more comfortable.


Thank you, Dr. Wolinski, for answering all my questions. If you guys would like to reach us, you can give us a call at 702-675-7000 to set your appointment.


Laser Therapy For Pain Relief

Laser treatments are an excellent way to provide pain relief to your canine companion. Laser therapy reduces pain by reducing inflammation through "vasodilation" (the opening of blood vessels) and also by activating the lymphatic drainage system, thus draining swollen areas. The result is a reduction in swelling which reduces pain. The lasers also stimulate nerve cells that block pain signals from being transmitted to the brain, thereby decreasing nerve sensitivity. Because there is less inflammation, less swelling and an interruption of pain signals to the brain, the dog will experience less pain. Laser treatments for dogs also stimulate the production of high levels of naturally-produced endorphins which further counteract your dog's pain.

Laser Therapy To Recover From Injury Or Surgery

Dog laser therapy is a very helpful tool during postoperative recovery. In minor cases, laser therapy alone may be enough to alleviate pain and stimulate the healing process. Because it works directly on injured or affected areas, laser treatments can help speed up healing, strengthen muscle and tissue, improve mobility and enhance your dog's overall quality of life almost immediately.

What Can I Expect At My Dog's Laser Therapy Appointment?

A technician will hold the laser wand directly over the affected area for somewhere between 3 and 10 minutes. There is no pain associated with the treatment and most dogs will relax during this time. The almost immediate relief of pain will allow your dog to be comfortable and any anxiety he or she initially experiences will quickly dissipate. Occasionally, some dogs actually fall asleep during their therapy sessions.

Is Laser Treatment For Dogs Painful Or Uncomfortable?

Laser treatment for dogs is totally pain free and very comforting. As the laser is administered, your dog may feel a gentle and soothing warmth, tingling, or no sensation at all. For many canines, dog laser therapy is very relaxing. As areas of pain or inflammation become more comfortable, any anxiety and tension your dog may be experiencing tends to quickly dissipate.

Are There Any Side Effects Of Laser Therapy For Dogs?

Laser treatment for dogs has no known side effects, and is considered both safe and effective across the veterinary industry.

How Can I Schedule A Dog Laser Therapy Appointment?

Scheduling an appointment for veterinary laser therapy is as easy as picking up the telephone, sending us an inquiry through our contact page or visiting our veterinary hospital in person. Our knowledgeable, compassionate veterinary team can help answer any questions you have. Make an appointment for your canine companion to begin experiencing the benefits of laser therapy today!