Cold laser, also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT), is a noninvasive procedure that uses visible and near infrared (NIR) light to stimulate cell regeneration and increase blood circulation. Overall cellular function is increased, allowing for rapid absorption of nutrients, elimination of wastes, growth of new cells and nerves.
Often, when people think of laser, they think of the burning rays like in movies. Or maybe they’ve heard of lasers being used for surgery to cut tissue. These could be called “hot lasers”. However, the wavelength (typically 600-950 nanometers (nm) depending on the condition being treated) and power of cold lasers is such that it doesn’t cause tissue warming. It will not burn your dog’s skin.
Cold laser has only been used in the United States since 2002 but it’s been used widely in Europe and Asia for a long time. There are studies showing the benefits of cold laser for people but there are few studies of its use on animals. Of those, some say it is beneficial and others say it doesn’t really do anything. Because of this, it’s still considered “fringe”, or alternative, therapy among many veterinarians. It’s been gaining some mainstream acceptance though as more and more vets are seeing results.
Cold laser can be helpful for dogs trying to avoid surgery (using conservative treatment), dogs recovering from surgery, or active dogs that compete in sports.
Potential benefits of cold laser therapy for dogs include:
Common injuries that cold laser therapy is used to treat in dogs are:
The potential benefits aren’t universally accepted among veterinarians. Some are just generally skeptical because they think it’s the latest gimmick from the holistic veterinary community. However, Laser therapy has been used human medicine for a long time and produced results. It’s just now being applied to animal cases though so it seems “new”. Almost every pet parent I hear from that has tried cold laser said they thought it made an important difference for their dog.
For more check out the 10 common criticisms of cold laser therapy and read the evidence-based responses.
To learn more check out The Reality of Cold Laser Treatment for Dogs
Information on Cold Lasers from Multiradiance Medical