Cold Laser Therapy for Dogs

Cold laser therapy is also known as soft laser therapy, low power laser therapy, low level laser therapy, bio-stimulation laser therapy, therapeutic laser therapy, and LLLT. Cold laser therapy is a treatment that uses a low-powered laser, that does not produce heat, to treat conditions and injuries in dogs. It is also used on other domestic pets, horses and humans.

Conditions Commonly Treated with Cold Laser Therapy

Cold laser therapy is used to treat multiple ailments and injuries and is also beneficial to dogs recovering from surgery. The treatment is particularly useful for dogs that have a painful condition or injury. Treatable ailments include:

  • Joint injuries
  • Ligament or tendon injuries
  • Bone fractures
  • Muscle sprains or strains
  • Skin lesions or abrasions
  • Haematoma (swelling of blood in body tissue)
  • Post-trauma wounds
  • Post-surgical wounds
  • Arthtritis
  • Musculoskeletal diseases
  • Nerve injury

Cold laser therapy has become a popular alternative to acupuncture treatment because it achieves the same stimulation without the insertion of a needle.

How Cold Laser Therapy Works

The laser is applied directly to the surface of the skin or it can be held just above the skin surface if direct contact is too painful for the dog. It is rare that a dog requires sedation for cold laser therapy because treatment can be administered without discomfort or restraint. Another benefit to cold laser therapy is that it is not necessary to shave the fur in the region of treatment. The laser can be set for shallow or deep tissue penetration for different time periods of treatment depending upon the condition that is being treated.

Cold laser therapy usually needs to include multiple administrations within the first week of treatment, followed by weekly or monthly treatments until a veterinarian determines that the condition has adequately improved. It is most beneficial when used in conjunction with other treatment methods, which depends on the condition that is being treated.

The beam of the laser consists of wavelengths with photons that penetrate into the tissue. The photons are absorbed by cells that are not properly functioning due to injury or disease. The photons help to initiate cellular processes by increasing the productivity of ATP, the energy source for cells. This increases overall cellular function, allowing for more rapid absorption of nutrients, elimination of wastes and reproduction of new cells. The reproduction of healthy cells and efficiency of cellular function aids to:

  • Alleviate chronic or acute pain
  • Reduce inflammation of soft tissue
  • Reduce edema (fluid trapped in body tissue)
  • Activate immune cells
  • Reduce bacteria in region of treatment
  • Increase blood flow to region of treatment
  • Speed healing and recovery

The effects of alleviating pain and reducing inflammation allow the dog to regain limited mobility and activity earlier in the recovery process. The laser also directly affects joint fluid and cartilage. This can benefit dogs suffering from arthritis by increasing the range of motion in joints. Increased range of motion allows a dog with arthritis to engage in more moderate and comfortable exercise.

The photons emitted by cold laser therapy have also shown improvement with neuronal regeneration and neural activity. Dogs that have suffered nerve injury may show an improvement in neurological function and range of motion with cold laser therapy. 

There are no known side effects from administration of cold laser therapy.