Laser Therapy for Arthritic Cats and Dogs
by Kari Trotsky, D.V.M.
So far, I’ve written about the Help ‘Em Up Harness and Swim Therapy as integrative treatments that can be used for arthritic dogs, in addition to medications. This time, I’d like to discuss laser therapy which can be used for arthritic cats, as well.
First, we need to talk about the technical stuff so you understand how laser therapy can help your pet. LASER is actually an acronym that stands for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation, and it is used to treat painful and debilitating conditions through the use of specific wavelengths of light. Basically, photons (light energy) are sent deep into the cells of the tissue without damaging them. The photons are then absorbed within the mitochondria of the cells and cause a chemical change called photobiostimulation. This causes the production of ATP in the cell which is the fuel, or energy, cells need for repair and healing. When the fuel (or energy) is increased, it can lead to healthier cells and tissues. Basically, laser therapy can help alleviate pain, inflammation, and swelling, and can stimulate nerve regeneration and cells involved in tissue repair.
Because it stimulates healing and decreases pain and inflammatory cells, lasers can be used to treat many different pet ailments. Lasers can treat muscle and joint pain, and the associated stiffness. In addition, tendonitis, wounds, ear infections, inflamed sinus cavities, lick granulomas, and post-surgical swelling, to name a few, can all benefit from laser therapy.
A laser therapy session consists of a technician applying, and continually moving, the laser probe over the affected area for a designated amount of time and laser strength, while the technician, and the pet alike, wear protective eye goggles. Laser therapy does not hurt, and many times pets feel relaxed as their pain starts to ease.
Arthritic pets usually have 2-3 sessions per week for 2 weeks, then 1-2 sessions per week for 1-3 weeks, then 1 session every 2-4 weeks, as directed by a veterinarian, for maintenance. You can sometimes see improvement after just 1 session, or more commonly, after the first week or two.
Arthritic pets don’t have to suffer needlessly! There are many options now that can be tailored to each pet and pet parent. Let your veterinarian know that you’d like to know all of your options, and then decide how to proceed from there.