Light therapy, also known as photo or laser therapy, directs red or infrared light waves on specific areas of pain, inflammation, wound or other injury. This method of treatment involves no medications and has no known side effects. Your veterinarian may recommend office visits for light therapy or teach you how to do treatments with a home light-therapy unit.
Light therapy uses multiple light waves to target areas of inflammation and pain. When targeting inflammation, light therapy delivers photons or electromagnetic energy to the inflamed tissue or cells. These photons suppress the enzymes that create swelling, edema and inflammation while boosting the release of anti-inflammatory enzymes. At the same time, light therapy increases the production of natural endorphins to reduce the pain that often accompanies inflammation. Treatments vary based on the level and location of the inflammation, as well as on a dog’s size.
Light therapy can treat conditions other than just inflammation, such as open wounds, surgical incisions and skin trauma. When it comes to treating inflammation, common conditions include anal gland inflammation, gingivitis, lick granulomas, bladder inflammation, sinusitis, arthritis, hip dysplasia, degenerative joint disease and intervertebral disc disease.
Unlike anti-inflammatory medications that can cause side effects, light therapy achieves many of the same goals with no risks of side effects. Your dog does not require sedation for a light therapy treatment, and many dogs actually enjoy the procedure. Unlike surgical procedures, light therapy does not require hair removal.
A light therapy treatment may last just three minutes or up to 20 minutes. Wavelength frequency depends on the location and the extent of the inflammation. At first, your dog may require multiple treatments a day or throughout the week, with a gradual decrease in treatments over the period of a few weeks. Chronic conditions, such as arthritis, may require regular light therapy treatments.
- Healing Arts Veterinary Center: Laser Therapy
- Carleton Veterinary Services: Ottawa Canine Laser/Photo Therapy
- Mokena Animal Clinic, Ltd.: Cold Laser Therapy -- Advanced Pain Relief for Your Pet
- Laser Therapy for Dogs: Indications for Laser Therapy
- Deb Teubert: Photonic Light Therapy
- American Society for Photobiology: Mechanisms of Low Level Light Therapy
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images