A tripointed view on the benefits of veterinary laser therapy

April 6, 2017

Three takes from three veterinary rehabilitation experts on why you should take this therapeutic modality seriously.

"Is this really helping?" Yes! say these veterinary rehabilitation experts. (Getty Images)Pain management and physical rehabilitation are growing in popularity in veterinary practice, much to the relief of sore or debilitated veterinary patients everywhere. And what is one tool veterinary specialists in the realm of rehabilitation reach for without hesitation? Laser therapy. How about you? Have you embraced this modality in your practice?

While they were speaking at one of our recent CVC conferences on this very topic, we grabbed these three rehab specialists to tell us why they turn to this tool-and turn to it they do!

Reap so many benefits

Laurie McCauley, DVM, DACVSMR, CCRT, CVA, CVC, who practices at TOPS Veterinary Rehabilitation in Grayslake, Illinois, readily points out the several benefits laser therapy brings:

• At low doses, it increases adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in cells.

• At high doses, it acts essentially as an axonal nerve block since it stops the transmission of ATP in nerve cells.

• It increases angiogenesis to maintain blood flow in the area.

She does say to be careful in patients with cancer. “To me cancer is not a contraindication, it just means if you have cancer you have to have informed consent,” McCauley says. “I've had animals live a lot longer pain-free or at least with diminished pain-of course I'm going to use drugs too. But I can decrease their pain and get a lot longer quality of life by adding other modalities, especially the laser.”

Hear more about McCauley's laser love at dvm360.com/laserlove.

Get just the right tool

Debra Canapp, DVM, CCRT, CVA, DACVSMR, co-owner and medical director of Veterinary Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Group in Annapolis Junction, Maryland, says lasers are the No. 1 modality she opts for. Her main uses: injuries and maintenance. And she's ready with recommendations for which laser to buy-namely, a class 4 laser that can be reduced in power to class 3B.

“There's a ton of data coming out about more power and what kind of responses you can get from tissue,” says Canapp. “If you only want one laser, then you want a class 4 that you can tone down to a 3B, so that way, economically, you're able to do both.”

Hear more on why lasers are No. 1 for Canapp at dvm360.com/lasersno1.

Lose the reluctance

A little skeptical that a beam of coherent light can be so beneficial in your veterinary patients? Matthew Brunke, DVM, CCRP, CVPP, CVA, who practices at North County Veterinary Referral Center in Glens Falls, New York, was once a skeptic too. But then he started examining some of the variables-attempting to delineate best practices for such things as the wattage, the time, how many joules are delivered into patients and what levels of treatment time are needed.

Brunke looks to human literature: “Let's go back and see what they're doing to advance human treatment options-and in that area laser therapy is making great movements forward,” says Brunke. “So if we can take that and then extrapolate that safely to our patients in veterinary medicine, now we're all on the same page.”