Cold laser therapy - or low-level laser therapy (LLLT) - is not a new type of treatment. After the accidental discovery by physician and surgeon Endre Mester in the 1960s, the use of LLLT became widespread in treating skin conditions in humans.
However, it was not until the early 2010s that studies confirmed the benefits of this therapy in the field of veterinary medicine. Today, many of this therapy’s benefits are still unknown, but there is evidence of its advantages in treating various ailments in pets.
Generally, LLLT is delivered alongside another type of treatment and in a way similar to acupuncture. Find out about the benefits of cold laser therapy for your dog or horse below.
What Is Cold Laser Therapy?
Cold laser therapy uses light energy emitted at low levels - or “cold.” When delivered at specific frequencies, this light energy travels through the skin and into the body, causing a physiological change at a cellular level.
By affecting the cells’ mitochondria (their respiration and energy core), the light promotes an increase in adenosine triphosphate (ATP). In turn, this promotes healing, reduced inflammation, and tissue regeneration.
Cold laser therapy for dogs is non-invasive and usually delivered through a handheld device that is moved on the skin’s surface on the affected area. Unlike hot laser treatments, cold laser therapy acts at a much more superficial level, and it is deemed safe for veterinary and medical use.
Benefits of Cold Laser Therapy for Dogs
Cold laser therapy is gaining momentum, also thanks to the recent studies conducted by the Evidence-Based Veterinary Medicine Association and the proven benefits of this non-invasive treatment. Some of today’s uses of cold laser therapy in dogs include:
- For cutaneous wound healing
- As a treatment for minor injuries and sprains
- To reduce inflammation and swelling
- For skin rejuvenation
- To decrease chronic pain
Here’s an overview of the advantages of using cold laser therapy for dogs.
Reduce Inflammation and Pain
As the levels of chronic pain and inflammation rise among pets and humans, scientists have been looking at new, alternative ways to treat these conditions without using non-steroidal or steroidal drugs.
According to a 2015 study, LLLT can effectively promote the treatment of pathologies affecting the musculoskeletal and reducing inflammation. Low-level lasers can also be an effective part of a pain-management strategy thanks to their analgesic properties.
Promotes Healing and Reduces Scar Tissue
According to a 2003 animal study, LLLT therapy has been seen to be effective in improving blood flow, reducing edema, and minimizing inflammation, which, in turn, can promote wound healing.
The study found that the laser reduced the inflammatory reaction, while it also increased collagen production, thus speeding up tissue regeneration in cutaneous wounds. A more recent study conducted in 2016 also shows how LLLT therapy can effectively treat pododermatitis in dogs by reducing swelling and inflammation.
Ultimately, when delivered at the right frequency, low-level laser energy can reduce scar tissue, promote wound healing, and improve blood flow, which is essential for tissue regeneration.
Relaxes and Soothes the Muscles
As we have seen above, the main target of the low-level cold laser therapy is the mitochondria center of the cell. Since the muscle cells boast an exceptionally high number of mitochondria, it is believed that LLLT can have a significantly beneficial effect in muscle injury healing and muscle regeneration.
A study conducted in 2012 proves this theory, reporting that the muscle cells respond particularly well to LLLT, leading to muscle relaxation, reduced fatigues, and decreased muscle pain and aches. For an injured dog, this treatment can be essential to heal faster and maintain their general health while recovering.
Can Help Improve Nerve Function
The medical and veterinary uses of LLLT are continuously on the rise, especially as many benefits of this therapy are being discovered. Some studies conducted in 2011 and 2013 have led to deeper research on the effects that LLLT can have on nerve damage, regeneration, and improved function.
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Resources for Acupressure in Horses & Dogs
Dr. Bruno was a member of the group of acupuncturists who founded the first two schools of Acupuncture in the United States. He is the past president of the American Association of Oriental Medicine. In addition to the extensive research on developing animal acupuncture, Dr. Bruno has done research at Harvard Medical School and at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, looking into the practical applications of acupuncture for the treatment of pain.
Dr. Bruno is the founder and a director of the American Board of Animal Acupuncture and currently teaches animal acupuncture at the Phoenix Institute of Herbal Medicine and Acupuncture in Arizona. Dr. Bruno uses the Brandenburg Laser on horses and small animals, and has found it superior to other lasers on the market.