Have you heard about cold lasers for dogs?
Cold lasers for dogs have come into favor with veterinarians and other healing professionals in recent years. The technology has been around for more than 20 years and has been studied a great deal. The data shows that it helps with pain relief and healing. But what can this therapy do for your dog?
It all sounds like a sure thing, right? However, as with anything health-related, there are pros and cons to using cold lasers for dog health. Read on for more information to help you decide if this approach is right for you and your dog.
What is cold laser therapy?
Briefly, cold laser therapy, also known as LLLT (low-level light therapy) or red light therapy, stimulates the circulation in the area being treated so that the body can send its resources to do the healing. Read more about the specifics in my post, Laser therapy for dogs, or this post by PedMD.
Usually, therapy is performed for a few minutes at a time in a series of treatments, over days, weeks, or months depending on the issue being treated. Some short term issues are resolved pretty quickly, while other chronic problems may require treatment for extended periods.
Excluding the possibility of the light hurting your eyes, lasers are painless. The makers of this device all recommend you and your dog wearing protective eyewear to decrease any chance of causing eye damage.
A word of caution; the therapy shouldn’t be used on a fast-growing disease like a tumor since the improved circulation can speed up the growth.
Using cold lasers for dogs
We have dogs (humans and horses too, for that matter) that have chronic pain issues—hip dysplasia, shoulder pain, back pain, etc. As recommended, we’ve taken our dogs to the vet to be sure of what we were dealing with.
In addition to their recommended treatment of medication, rest, etc., they generally recommend using cold lasers for dogs for the types of issues our dogs were having. I went to the internet for a little research and found tons of articles and blog posts on the subject. It sounded like a good thing to try.
How do you access cold lasers for dogs?
Many veterinarians offer cold laser treatments in the office. We tried that for one of our rescue dogs, Tasha. She had severe spinal spondylosis, a painful deformation of the spine. She absolutely LOVED her treatments.
Tasha’s pain issues decreased, and her mobility got much better. But going to the office a couple of times a week was tricky. There is also the cost of the appointment, treatment, and travel back and forth.
The vet also had a cold laser unit available for rent. They charged $250/week; a not insignificant amount, but worth a try. Definitely less than buying a device, it would allow us to treat more frequently, and treat more patients.
Since it seemed to be helping our old girl, we thought we’d try renting the laser so we could do the therapy ourselves at home, not only for her but for our other dogs. Tasha received therapy every day, which made a big difference for her.
Our other dogs, Lincoln, with his hip dysplasia, and Quinn, with her juvenile arthritis, got to try it as well. We tried it on ourselves and the horses too. Everybody seemed to be gaining from therapy. By the way, from personal experience, that laser feels really good!
Renting by the week didn’t seem very cost-effective, especially for more than one week at a time. While having a laser for home use allowed more frequent treatment and treatment of multiple patients, at that cost, we wondered if investing in a device of our own would be a good idea.
At what point should you purchase a cold laser?
Sadly, we lost Tasha after seven months due to an aggressive mouth cancer she had. But while she was here, she went from barely being able to walk to running and playing with the other dogs. I consider cold lasers for dogs to be a fantastic tool!
Considering that we had not only Tasha, but Lincoln, Quinn, and who knows who else, the idea of purchasing a laser started sounding like a good idea. However, when you look online, you can find them at a price anywhere between $100 to $20,000 or more. Not all lasers are equal, apparently.
When considering purchasing a laser, you’ll have to weigh the costs and benefits to see if it’s worthwhile for your situation. We had several animals with chronic conditions that could benefit and could swing the purchase, so we did.
Buying cold lasers for dogs
If I was going to find and purchase a good quality laser, I had a lot of learning to do. What lasers are available? At what cost? How do they work, exactly? What features are available, and which ones are necessary? How long and how often does the laser treatment need to be done for each condition? And so many more questions. This was going to be a project.
I started out by asking our dog vet and our horse vet for their recommendations. Since laser therapy is being used on people too, I asked our physician and chiropractor, as well. The basic conclusion was that not just any laser would help, but a good quality laser could be worth the money to buy and the time to use.
I found out by asking the professionals and searching online that a good quality laser was going to cost between $3,000 – $12,000, a large chunk of change. But if it was worth it, meaning we could get the most out of our money, afford to purchase, and get the best results, we’d give it a try.
We bought an Erchonia XLR8; a human grade laser. We’ve used it several times weekly on dogs, horses, and people. We’re seeing some good results and those who are receiving treatment are getting better.
Was it worth buying a cold laser?
It can be time-consuming and a little cumbersome to use since the patient has to be in a position that allows direct light. But overall, we’re glad we got it.
If you are in a position to purchase a good laser, I’d definitely recommend it. If not, I’d recommend trying the other options for getting laser therapy for your dog.
Have you tried cold lasers for dogs? Tell me about it in the comments below.