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Laser Light Therapy: A Magic Wand for Recovery?

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Image credit: Morgan M. featuring Belle


Laser light therapy (recently renamed photobiomodulation, or PBM) is an affordable tech-savvy way to provide healing for many difficult-to-manage health conditions. Some widely touted benefits of laser therapy include: decreased inflammation and pain, accelerated tissue healing, reduced need for pain medications, and it is noninvasive. Want to know more? Read on!

Which conditions can be treated with laser therapy?

Acute injuries or disease states, including:

  • Routine postoperative surgical pain
  • Infections (e.g. ear infections, anal sac abscesses, urinary tract infection, and skin infections)
  • Trauma (e.g. soft tissue injuries, swelling and edema, bruising, aural hematomas, lick granulomas, skin grafts, bite wounds, and burns)

Chronic disease states, including:

  • Orthopedic disease (e.g.arthritis, fractures/ bone pain, ligament and tendons after injury or surgery, damaged cartilage)
  • Neurologic disease (e.g. nerve pain/inflammation, back injuries, and disc disease)
  • Other chronic conditions (e.g. burn wounds, dental/oral pain, thinning hair coat, gut pain/inflammation, certain autoimmune diseases)

How does it work?

While the laser hand-held device may appear similar to a “magic wand”, the treatment actually induces measurable changes at a cellular level. Consider the similar process of how the sun plays a vital role in photosynthesis of plants. In brief, sunlight provides excitation within the plant cells, leading to energy production. Likewise, laser light energy is utilized to activate a cascade of intracellular events, resulting in speeding the repair of damaged animal cells and tissues. Inflammation is reduced as cell damages are repaired, leading to decreased pain. While these processes will likely happen without the use of laser light, PBM is essentially a fast-forward through the prolonged pain and discomfort of “normal” recovery.

Therapy lasers utilize light within a specific wavelength parameter. This parameter has been established as safe and effective through extensive research in both human and animal studies. The benefits of PBM have been known for decades. With improved equipment affordability, device portability and durability, and development of animal protocols and software, this medical treatment has become more available to our non-human companions.

Where do I sign up my beloved pet?

It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis prior to beginning a laser therapy program. Some conditions may respond unfavorably to laser treatment. Once a diagnosis is reached, PBM therapy can be incorporated into your pet’s treatment plan. Treatments can be administered safely by appropriately trained veterinary staff. A veterinarian will oversee treatment and make adjustments to the treatment plan as needed based on response to therapy.

Treatment protocols vary

Therapy may require multiple doses over an extended period of time. PBM has a cumulative effect and improvement in condition(s) treated should be noted after the first few treatments; continued improvement should occur until a plateau of recovery is reached. This is different for each pet and ailment. Treatment sessions are relatively short, most can be administered in 10-15 minutes and are affordable for most pet owners. Ideally, PBM therapy is not utilized solely but as an adjunct to a multimodal treatment plan. Discuss with your veterinarian if PBM would be a good treatment option for your pet’s ailments.


Amanda Burow, D.V.M. (Dr. B), is a graduate of Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Burow’s patient list includes hunting dogs of all varieties, as well as several field trial dogs and full time sporting guide dogs. In addition to practicing general veterinary medicine, she has special interest in the areas of preventive care, emergency medicine, and dermatology. In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors and on the lake, staying active, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

Mud River is proud to share these tips from Dr. B with our customers. Keep in mind it is best to work with your local veterinarian to determine the needs for your animals.

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