Animal Laser Therapies

Greenway Drive & Kingscliff Veterinary Hospitals are one of the few veterinary hospitals in the country offering class IV laser therapy for dogs and cats. This powerful, pain-free and non-invasive treatment uses laser light to help reduce pain and speed the healing of inflamed or damaged tissues.

We now have 3 full years of experience using this treatment modality.

Recent updates in pain mangagement:
1. Revised guidelines.For the first time since 2007, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recently issued new guidelines for treating cats’ and dogs’ pain. The revisions include new research and insight on integrated pain management that doesn’t depend on just analgesic drugs.
2. Alternative treatments. Laser therapy is increasing in popularity as a way to manage pain associated with osteoarthritis and wounds, Huntingford says. Acupuncture and rehabilitation therapy are also increasingly gathering steam as effective strategies.

3. New drugs. Aratana is planning to release a drug called Grapiprant in 2016, and Huntingford says this agent will “probably revolutionize pain medicine for arthritis as we know it.” The molecule, AT-001, is an EP4 blocker targeted at osteoarthritis pain that produces few side effects, according to Huntingford.
4. Nutritional options. A nutraceutical for humans, Theracurmin, is being reformulated for canines. It’s a derivative of curcumin, which has a bioavailability of less than 1 percent in dogs, but Theracurmin may be up to 10 percent bioavailable, “which is a great thing for our patients,” Huntingford says. It is not available yet.

Arthritis, degenerative joint disease, fractures, joint problems and some soft tissue injuries are among the conditions for which we recommend laser therapy. In many cases, the results are impressive. 

Laser therapy is also now a standard part of our post-surgery protocol, thanks to its ability to reduce pain and significantly speed the time it takes for incisions to heal. Except in cases where it is contraindicated (such as the removal of suspected cancerous masses), we now administer the treatment after every operation performed at the hospital. Patients that have had orthopedic or major soft tissue surgery receive at least one additional session, while they are still in the hospital.

What are some of the conditions that can be treated with laser therapy?

How do I find out if it’s right for my pet?

If your cat or dog has limited mobility or suffers from chronic or acut pain, laser therapy might help. Talk with us during your pet’s next physical exam – or schedule an appointment right now to discuss the treatment.

What is a typical course of treatment like?

Your veterinarian will develop a treatment schedule that is customised to your pet’s needs. Very often, the treatments are performed on a “3-2-1” schedule: three treatments the first week, two treatments the second week, and one in the third week. After this initial series is completed, it may be necessary to bring your pet back for booster treatments depending on the response. 

How soon will my pet feel relief?

Because laser therapy is cumulative in nature, a series of visits is required to get the greatest benefit. That said, in many cases a degree of improvement will be seen after the first visit. In general, the majority of patients will show greater comfort and improved mobility twelve to 24 hours after each treatment.

Animal Laser Therapy Patients report great results. Often they are able to reduce or even eliminate-pain medications. “She just seems more like herself these days,” is a phrase that crops up frequently. However, it is not necessary to discontinue any medications.

Each session takes ten or fifteen minutes to complete, depending on the number of areas treated. The therapy is performed by one of Greenway Drive & Kingscliff Vets specially trained animal laser veterinarians or nurses. You are welcome to stay with your pet during treatment.

The laser operator uses a hand-held probe to apply laser energy to a targeted area. The laser unit makes beeping sounds – lower than normal conversation volume – to indicate laser operation and the transition between phases of continuous or pulsing energy.

Because the treatment is painless, anesthesia is not required, thus avoiding the associated risk and expense. For most patients, the therapy does not require sedation. Pets go home immediately after treatment.

Is the treatment painful?

The treatment is entirely pain-free. The patient experiences a mild warmth or tingling sensation. A majority of patients exhibit greater comfort and mobility within 12 to 24 hours after a laser treatment. In some instances, there may some mild discomfort the night of laser treatment.  This is short lived and is not seen as a negative response to treatment.  In the same way as we may become sore after a work out or a physiotherapist treatment, it indicates that the cells are changing.  The change will be for the good!

Will my pet need to have its coat shaved for the treatments?

NO, never!

Is it really safe?

The FDA has approved class IV laser therapy for use in humans and animals. It is painless, non-invasive and non-addictive. We take appropriate precautions and provide specialised eyewear to protect the eyes of the patient, pet owner and animal laser operator. Makes for a great photo!

Tell me more about the science behind the treatment.

Infrared laser light interacts with tissues at a cellular level, increasing metabolic activity within the cells and improving the transport of nutrients across the cell membrane. This initiates the increased production of cellular energy that leads to a cascade of beneficial effects, increasing cellular function and health.

As the photons of laser light penetrate deeply into tissue, the energy available to the individual cells increases. With more energy available, the cells are able to speed the process of absorbing nutrients and flushing out waste products, thus accelerating the growth and healing of tissue. Exposure to laser light helps repair tendons, ligaments and muscles.

Laser light also stimulates the development of fibroblasts, the building blocks of collagen, the essential protein required to replace old tissue or to repair tissue injuries. This is why it’s so helpful in treating tissue damage from cuts, scratches, burns and surgery.

Veterinary Animal Laser Therapy
helps heal and reduce pain.  Read these 10 descriptions of how this drug free treatment helps our animal patients.

1. Anti-Inflammatory:  MLS Animal Laser Therapy has an anti-edema effect as it causes vasodilation, but also because it activates the lymphatic drainage system which drains swollen areas.  As a result, there is a reduction in swelling caused by bruising or inflammation.

2. Analgesic:  MLS Animal Laser Therapy has a beneficial effect on nerve cells.  It blocks pain transmitted by these cells to the brain which decreases nerve sensitivity.  Also, due to decreased inflammation, there is less edema and less pain.  Another pain blocking mechanism involves the production of high levels of pain killing chemical such as endorphins and enkephalin from the brain and adrenal gland.

3. Accelerated Tissue Repair and Cell Growth:  Photons of light from lasers penetrate deeply into tissue and accelerate cellular reproduction and growth.  The laser light increases the energy available to the cell so that the cell can take on nutrients faster and get rid of wate products.  As a result of exposure to laser light, damaged cells are repaired faster.

4. Improved Vascular Activity:  Laser light will significantly increase the formation of new capillaries in damaged tissue which speeds up the healing process, closes wounds quickly and reduces scar tissue.  Additional benefits include acceleration of angiogenesis, which causes temporary vasodilation and increases the diameter of blood vessels.

5. Trigger Points and Acupuncture Points: MLS Animal Laser Therapy stimulates muscle trigger points and acupuncture points on a noninvasive basis providing musculoskeletal pain relief.

6. Increases Metabolic Activity:  MLS Animal Laser Therapy creates higher outputs of specific enzymes, greater oxygen and food particle loads for blood cells.

7. Reduced Fibrous Tissue Formation:  MLS Animal Laser Therapy reduces the formation of scar tissue following tissue damage from cuts, scratches, burns or surgery.

8. Improved Nerve Function:  Slow recovery of nerve functions in damaged tissue can result in numbness and impaired limbs.  Laser light speeds the process of nerve cell reconnection and increases the amplitude of action potentials to optimise muslce healing.

9. Immunoregulation: Laser light has a direct effect on immunity status by stimulating immunoglobulins and lymphocytes.  Laser emissions are absorbed by chromophores(molecule enzymes) that react to laser light. Upon exposure to the laser, the enzyme flavomonoculeotide is activated and starts the production of ATP(adenosine-triphosphate), which is the major carrier of cell energy and the energy source for all chemical reactions in the cells.

10. Faster Wound Healing: Laser light stimulates fibroblast development in damaged tissue.  Fibroblasts are the building blocks of collagen, which is the essential protein required to replace old tissue or to repair tissue injuries.  As a result, MLS Laser Therapy is effective post surgically and in the treatment of open wounds and burns.

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