Using lasers to treat strains, sprains and arthritis in dogs isn't a new concept, but it may be new to you. If laser therapy is available to help alleviate pain for your pooch, you'll want to take advantage of it. Laser therapy exists in various forms and strengths, so you'll want to know what kind of cold laser the vet will be using on Casper.
Cold lasers are known as "low-level lasers" because the power they put out is much lower than that of surgical lasers. Those high-powered lasers are fairly hot, capable of 3,000 to 10,000 milliwatts. That's enough to do some serious thermal damage if not used appropriately. But cold lasers put out less than 100 milliwatts -- a low enough level that the laser can penetrate the surface of Casper's skin without burning or cutting him, while still having a therapeutic effect on his hip or knee joint.
Your vet might have one of three different types of cold lasers to use on Casper's aching joints. The first is a gaseous HeNE, which puts out a red beam you can actually see. Gallium-arsenide and gallium-aluminum-arsenide are the other two types of cold lasers. Their lights are so close to the infrared band that they are invisible. They have longer wavelengths than the HeNe type of laser. This makes them more effective and precise than the HeNe -- they penetrate better, and the waves don't tend to scatter as much.
According to Steven M. Fox and Darryl Millis in their book "Multimodal Management of Canine Osteoarthritis," there haven't been sufficient studies to determine intensities, wavelengths and dosages for optimal treatment. The intensity and length of time your vet applies the laser to Casper's hip or knee will depend on his size and condition.
The effectiveness of cold laser therapy can depend on the type of laser your vet uses, so talk to her about it and to pet owners who've opted for it. To get the maximum benefit, you should take Casper in for cold laser treatments twice a week for a month. You'll probably start to notice that the therapy is helping after one or two weeks. It may not be a permanent solution, though. Once the initial treatment phase is finished, Casper will need periodic followup treatments. Usually these are scheduled as-needed, but you may end up taking him in as often as once a month.
- Multimodal Management of Canine Osteoarthritis; Steven M. Fox and Darryl Millis
- Aqua-Calc: What Is Milliwatt (Unit)
- Wound Care: A Collaborative Practice Manual; Edited by Carrie Sussman and Barbara M. Bates-Jensen
- The Adopted Dog Bible
- DogChannel.com: Lasers Help Dogs Heal
- Class IV Laser Therapy; Brian A. Pryor, Ph.D.
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