The Low Down on Low-Level Laser Therapy for Pets

Recently, we had a number of emails asking us what low-level laser therapy is and can it help a pet with osteoarthritis (OA) or degenerative myelopathy (DM).  So I thought it might be good to give a quick overview of it here.

First off, low-level laser therapy is a form of intense light therapy that can reduce pain and stimulate healing by promoting positive physiologic changes at the body’s cellular level.  It’s a lot like therapeutic ultrasound, which heals with sound waves, only low-level laser therapy uses light.  And while there hasn’t been a lot of research into the use of low-level laser therapy in dogs and cats, but there have been plenty of studies on its use in humans and horses and from that we know that it accelerates tissue repair, increases the formation of new capillaries in damaged tissue, and speeds the formation of collagen.  For those reasons, it’s proven effective for wound management, alleviating chronic pain from joint conditions, including osteoarthritis, and healing soft-tissue injuries, including sprains, strains, tendonitis, tenosynovitis, capsulitis, and bursitis.   Is it effective for DM?  No, it won’t slow the progression of the disease, but often dogs with DM compensate for their limited hind limb mobility by putting more weight on their front limbs and low-level laser therapy can help mitigate pain in those overused muscles.

So those are the conditions where it can be helpful.  There are times, though, when you want to be very careful with a low-level laser–for example, when using it on an animal with black skin as it can burn–and you never want to use low-level laser therapy on an animal who has or has had cancer as it can stimulate tumor growth. 

For more information about this and other rehab therapies and techniques, including hydrotherapy, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, pulsed electromagnetic field therapys, and acupuncture, please visit our website at

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2 Responses to “The Low Down on Low-Level Laser Therapy for Pets”

  1. kayla says:

    My vet is wanting to try Erchonia laser therapy on my cat who has hyperthyroidism and kidney problems. Is this a good idea?

  2. scoutshouse says:

    If you ever have any doubts about a treatment your veterinarian is recommending, you should always address your concerns to your veterinarian–don’t be afraid to ask questions, such as: Why are you suggesting this treatment? Is this treatment safe for my cat? What are the potential side effects? Have you used this treatment before? How many times? Those are just a few of the questions you should consider. If your veterinarian’s responses don’t reassure you–or if you’d like to be more certain you’re pursuing the right course of action for your cat–seek a second opinion. At Scout’s House, we regularly recommend talking to a Board-certified veterinary specialist when faced with making a decision about treating a serious disease. In your case that would be someone Board-certified in internal medicine. Please don’t let your fear of hurting your veterinarian’s feelings overshadow your responsibility to your cat; your Number One mission is to find the best possible treatment for your cat. Everything else beyond that is immaterial.
    For great information and advice on how to advocate for your pet, read Dr. Nancy Kay’s book, Speaking for Spot. It’s the best book we’ve ever read for learning how to get the best care for your cat or dog–and on how to make the best health care decisions for your pet. It’s available on our online store at

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