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Vet Recommends Laser Therapy for Fido
Old 03-03-2015, 11:35 AM   #1
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Vet Recommends Laser Therapy for Fido

My beloved pug is about to turn 13, and like so many older dogs, her hips are beginning to go.

Vet says it's arthritis. She prescribed an additional painkiller on top of one already prescribed. Jury is out regarding whether it will work.

But vet also said that the next recommended step could be laser therapy. This vet is new and the practice was just acquired from older vets. Prices went up after the aquisition. The new vets are good and maybe this is legit. Maybe just a profit center, too, that plays on the guilt of owners who (like me) love their dogs.

Anyone heard of dog laser therapy for hips? Does it work?
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Old 03-03-2015, 12:01 PM   #2
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I was attending a Continuing Education forum for veterinarians, and the subject of laser therapy was thrown out. This is not something I ever learned about when I was in vet school, but apparently it is in vogue now. Several vets mentioned that they had such a good response in their patients that they used the laser on their aching knees and hips and it made a noticeable difference. This is anecdotal and not scientific proof, but there appears to be some merit to the therapy.
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Old 03-03-2015, 12:22 PM   #3
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I'd never heard of it. Of course their doing so much more for pets now. Do your research, but this does sound promising for some. Based on what some of the prescriptions cost, it may be worth a try.

I did find a writeup by the AKC attached: http://www.akcchf.org/canine-health/...-for-dogs.html
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Old 03-03-2015, 01:11 PM   #4
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But vet also said that the next recommended step could be laser therapy.
Our vet was playing a video in the waiting room extolling the virtues of this laser therapy for all manner of illnesses. It looked dubious to me. When we brought our pooch in recently the assistant asked if I wanted the laser therapy to help with the healing if the dog needed surgery. I asked if it was any good, she said it was. I asked if it was an approved therapy for people--she didn't know. I said no thanks. The dog didn't need surgery, so I don't have a report for you.
I'd do more research if I were in your shoes. I don't immediately see how a laser light applied to the skin is going to change the biology at the joint level, but stranger things have happened. I remain skeptical. If it is an approved therapy for human joint pain, then I'd give it far more credence.

Therapy or There-u-pay?
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Old 03-03-2015, 01:18 PM   #5
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Our vet was playing a video in the waiting room extolling the virtues of this laser therapy for all manner of illnesses. It looked dubious to me. When we brought our pooch in recently the assistant asked if I wanted the laser therapy to help with the healing if the dog needed surgery. I asked if it was any good, she said it was. I asked if it was an approved therapy for people--she didn't know. I said no thanks. The dog didn't need surgery, so I don't have a report for you.
I'd do more research if I were in your shoes. I don't immediately see how a laser light applied to the skin is going to change the biology at the joint level, but stranger things have happened. I remain skeptical. If it is an approved therapy for human joint pain, then I'd give it far more credence.

Therapy or There-u-pay?
A very good friend of mine has a successful business maintaining and repairing medical lasers (for people).

From what I have gleaned from him over the years, lasers are used to "slice and dice" and have no biological treatment or healing powers.
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Old 03-03-2015, 01:51 PM   #6
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There are different kinds of medical grade lasers, and some are used in lieu of a scalpel to incise tissue. One of the theories behind the use of therapeutic lasers is to improve circulation to the affected/damaged area. Better vascularization implies faster healing which is why it is touted for use as a post-surgical treatment to speed up healing of the surgical site (skin).
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Old 03-03-2015, 02:21 PM   #7
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Here is a NIH report on a 2009 study of laser therapy for human knees with osteoarthritis:

The Effect of Low-Level Laser in Knee Osteoarthritis: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial

(DH and I agree that we will treat our "last" dog, now three years old, very conservatively as she ages, and would probably pass on this kind of treatment for her when she is thirteen)
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Old 03-03-2015, 07:09 PM   #8
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This was such a tiny study. But in the references alongside the study is the important study - a meta-analysis of many trials.

The effect of low-level laser therapy on musculoskeletal pain: a me... - PubMed - NCBI

'We conclude that LLLT (low level laser therapy) has no effect on pain in musculoskeletal syndromes.'
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laser treatment
Old 03-03-2015, 07:30 PM   #9
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laser treatment

My DD is a vet tech and her animal hospital does laser treatment on her pitbull post surgery. She is convinced that it speeds up recovery.
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Old 03-03-2015, 07:58 PM   #10
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My DD is a vet tech and her animal hospital does laser treatment on her pitbull post surgery. She is convinced that it speeds up recovery.
An NIH meta-study indicated the LLLT was beneficial for promoting wound healing (in humans). That study was 12 years ago, but I haven't heard that this is now part of the standard post-op regimen.

Anyway, maybe if my pooch does need surgery, I'll say okay to the expensive light.
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Old 03-03-2015, 08:17 PM   #11
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It is very important for the vet and vet techs to believe in the treatment in order to get the full benefit of the placebo effect on the pet owner.
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Old 03-03-2015, 11:33 PM   #12
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It is very important for the vet and vet techs to believe in the treatment in order to get the full benefit of the placebo effect on the pet owner.
Shades of Upton Sinclair!
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Old 03-04-2015, 07:43 AM   #13
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It is very important for the vet and vet techs to believe in the treatment in order to get the full benefit of the placebo effect on the pet owner.
Don't knock placebos, they are, in themselves, an important and effective class of treatment. The hard part is getting the dog to believe in it.
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Old 03-04-2015, 07:54 AM   #14
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We love our pets, don't we!

I'd ask the Vet for previous dog owners that had the surgery for their dogs. Talk to them and ask if it worked. For me this wouldn't be a money issue.....I'd do it. For me it would be is it worth it for the pain and suffering the dog would incur becasue of the treatment.

Good luck.
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Old 03-04-2015, 09:27 AM   #15
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Another consideration, even if the laser treatment can help with pain--is it really that much more effective than the current treatment with painkiller, other than on the oractice's balance sheet?
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