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New laser treatment to relieve pet's pain

July 10, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
As our pets age, it's tough to watch them get sick with diseases like we do. Now, an easy, non-invasive laser treatment could do the trick to keeping them pain-free.

For Sydney's owner, Jackie Kaehler, a rehab hospital saved her best friend the day his body nearly failed him.

"He enjoys coming here. He gets very, very excited and he starts singing and barking just as soon as we turn in off of the street," said Kaehler.

At 4 years old, or roughly 28 in people years, Sydney found himself paralyzed.

"It was quite sudden. I was outside and then he was at the back door. And I'm talking to him and he couldn't move," said Kaehler.

Veterinarian Elizabeth Rawson said it's not uncommon.

"The discs sort of deteriorate over time and then they rupture," Rawson said.

Surgery saved Sidney's back, but left him with a lot of pain. That's where a new cold laser treatment, known as photo-biotherapy, comes in.

"The light, actually, it brings blood supply to the area. It decreases pain by a couple of different mechanisms, including the nerves themselves and endorphin release," said Rawson.

It's most commonly used for arthritis, which affects 20 percent of dogs.

"The owners will say, 'Boy, after their laser treatment, they feel so much better and they get around easier,'" said Rawson.

Without side effects, Kaehler is amazed at how much Sydney has improved. Now, he's back to his favorite pastime: squirrel hunting.

"After he was taking his laser therapy, it was like a new person," she said.

The non-invasive therapy can take as little as 10 minutes in a small dog or cat or about a half-hour for larger animals with more arthritis. The most chronic conditions require about four treatments to see at least a 50-percent improvment in mobility and pain reduction. It can even be used on horses.

One note of caution though: Rawson points out that because the laser stimulates blood flow to the treated area, it should never be used on animals with cancer.


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