Learn about what low-level laser therapy is, what it can help with, and when not to give it to your pet.
Low-level laser therapy, LLLT, cold laser, or class IV laser therapy is a device used in many veterinary hospitals or clinics. LLLT is a single wavelength of light that increases circulation and stimulates the regeneration of cells.
LLLT is used to reduce inflammation. Inflammation can be from multiple things and therefore has many uses. One of the most common uses of LLLT is for pain. Arthritis is an ailment that LLLT works great for. After a surgical procedure is another time LLLT is ideal. If used on the incision site and the area that was operated on can reduce inflammation which decreases pain and increases healing time. Wound treatment whether it is from a bite, road rash, or burns the treatments help like a wound after surgery. If your pet has an abscess and has pus around the area it can be harder for the wound to heal. Having a clean wound is best. Talk to your veterinarian about what is best for your pet and their situation.
LLLT is safe and non-invasive for your pet. No hair needs to be removed, no heat comes from the laser so there is no chance of burning the pet’s skin, and no need for sedation since there is nothing that the pet will feel from the laser treatment except relaxation and reduced pain. Sometimes staying still for the 5-20 minutes it takes to get the treatment is the hardest part for the pet. They normally get used to the treatments and come to their spot to have the treatment done, are relaxed, and sometimes even fall asleep.
When your pet first starts getting treatments, they will need to have the treatments close together and then can get them more spread out as the area starts to heal or the inflammation reduces. For chronic issues like arthritis that have been going on for years, you might need to get LLLT done every few days for a few weeks and then eventually get down to once a week to sometimes once every few weeks. This will depend on how long the problem has been going on if the pet over-exerts itself often, and how well the pet does for treatment. For acute issues like skin injury, they normally need treatments every few days until it is healed. For cruciate tears whether the pet has surgery or not they should have LLLT for a few weeks every few days to once a week.
It will depend on the pet, your schedule, how the pet is healing and feeling, how often, and for how long they will need treatment. Some devices can be used at home for chronic issues that might be helpful if your pet gets sore easily from exercise, or it is hard to get the pet to the clinic. The at-home devices (like this one – Assisi Loop) are not as strong as the ones at the veterinary clinics but can be very helpful in between treatments at the clinic.
If your pet has cancer, you normally do not want to have LLLT treatments done. The treatments increase circulation and stimulate the regeneration of cells which also increases cancer cells. Sometimes if the pet is in a lot of pain due to arthritis and is having a hard time getting up or down, which is decreasing their quality of life and they have cancer this would be a time to discuss possibly having LLLT done, but to stay away from the area that has cancer as much as possible.
Talk to your veterinary clinic about LLLT to see if they offer it, know of a clinic nearby that does offer it, or if the at-home treatment would be best for your pet.