For nearly twelve years now, Laser Therapy for both dogs and cats has been our standard of care when dealing with a variety of conditions such as osteoarthritis, injury, disc disease and many others. We have seen so many successes that sometimes seem barely short of miraculous, that it has altered the way in which we practice medicine. As veterinarians trained in traditional Western Medicine, that does not mean that we no longer use medications and surgical intervention when necessary. However, as we have become more confident and comfortable with an initial conservative approach to disease treatment, we have found that to err on the side of caution often results in a better and safer outcome for the patient as well as a reduced expense for the owner.
Consider the following anecdotes:
Dr. Smolka, who many of you have come to know over the past year and a half, approached me yesterday feeling somewhat discouraged because a client whose pet had been successfully undergoing laser therapy for a hip problem, had decided to switch to medication instead for convenience. This seemingly insignificant decision would certainly not be newsworthy in most practices. The great majority of veterinary practices in the US consider NSAIDS (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs such as Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Metacam and Aspirin the standard of care when treating arthritis and other orthopedic conditions. NSAIDs, in fact, are one of the highest profit products in the Veterinary Pharmaceutical world. Though they are often initially effective, many clients seek us out for Laser Therapy, admitting that over time the drug’s success wanes. That in addition to their concern over side effects such as kidney disease, liver disease, stomach ulcers and clotting disorders. So, from Dr. Smolka’s view, an approach to treatment that would not even raise an eyebrow in most practices, becomes unsettling at the Brockton Animal Hospital as Pet Laser Therapy has proven to be a superior therapy.
A second story, that occurred several months ago, involved a pharmaceutical representative who was speaking with our Hospital Administrator. The rep works for a supplier from whom we frequently purchase medications. She had noted that we had not purchased NSAIDs from her in a long time. She further inquired as to who we were now purchasing from as she was looking to match the price. When Sandy’s (our Hospital Administrator) response was “you” the rep was astounded. She was shocked that a product that is utilized so widely in veterinary medicine was rarely ordered in a practice as busy as ours. (By the way, it is an excellent post-surgical pain medication).
So what does all of the above mean? First, when it comes to orthopedic problems such as arthritis, ACL (cranial cruciate ligament) injury, spinal injuries or disc disease as well as a host of other conditions, Low level Laser Therapy (now officially known as Photobiomodulation) is a non invasive, safe, effective and inexpensive option to consider. Secondly, often there is no harm in a conservative approach to treatment prior to a more invasive or pharmacological path. Laser Therapy in dogs and cats has shown effectiveness in so many instances that even in a disease for which there is minimal current evidence, if principles are followed a positive response often occurs. Finally, even when a more invasive procedure such as surgery for ACL injury is necessary, Brockton Animal Hospital uses Pet Laser Therapy in an integrative approach to help speed recovery. It is important to note that not all Pet Laser Therapy is the same. Multiple studies both in the laboratory and clinics have shown that when Laser Therapy fails, it is more likely that improper techniques, inappropriate dosages (over or under) or insufficient training of the therapist is responsible.
If you have any questions regarding Pet Laser Therapy or whether Laser Therapy for your cat or dog might be helpful, please feel free to call the Brockton Animal Hospital. We are always here to ensure that you and your pet are able to enjoy each other’s company to the fullest.