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Put a Spring Back in Your Dog’s Step: Laser Therapy for Senior Dogs

Four in five dogs will develop arthritis as they age, and large dogs are at a higher risk of developing this painful condition. As a veterinarian, you’ve seen the effects of arthritis on your patients and how the pain and inflammation turn happy, active animals into ones who struggle to stand and walk.

Just like in humans, pain in arthritic joints can be reduced with medications, like NSAID pain relievers or corticosteroids, physical therapy, and nutritional supplements. Additionally, weight management can help reduce stress on arthritic joints in dogs, and surgery can be used to repair deteriorated joint tissue.

Pain relievers, even those formulated for specially dogs, can still cause unwanted side effects such as gastrointestinal upset or damage to the liver and kidneys, and corticosteroids can contribute to further joint damage. Plus, dogs don’t take pills quite as easily as people do.

Surgery can help in severe cases of joint deterioration—but the procedure is expensive with a lengthy recovery, and pet owners might hesitate to go through with surgical intervention.

Laser Therapy for Dogs: An Alternative to Pain Relievers & Corticosteroids

Laser therapy has made its way into veterinary practices as an option to reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis in animals. Laser therapy offers a painless, non-invasive (and pill-free) treatment for pain and inflammation that promotes natural healing.

Laser therapy with red and near-infrared (NIR) light stimulates the mitochondria of cells, leading to a boost in ATP production. The resulting peak in energy transfer causes improved circulation and promotes the healing and repair of damaged tissue.

Laser therapy treatments for dogs take 3 to 15 minutes, and patients start to feel better immediately after treatment. Owners can stay with their animals during treatment, provided they wear appropriate safety goggles, and pet their animals to keep them relaxed. Most veterinarians find that once animals realize the treatments make them feel better, they become comfortable and enjoy treatments.

Benefits of Laser Therapy for Senior Dogs

With laser therapy treatments, owners aren’t tasked with ensuring picky animals take medications. Animals can get creative with not taking pills—no matter how much peanut butter they’re hidden in—and not receiving the proper dose makes the struggle ultimately worthless. Laser therapy ensures dogs receive the correct dose every time, sans peanut butter.

Laser therapy has no side effects, so animals only feel better. Pet owners don’t need to treat unwanted side effects, trading one headache for another.

Laser therapy can also be used alongside physical therapy to help restore strength to senior pets’ joints.

With reduced pain, animals have increased mobility and return to their usual selves. Even in their senior years, dogs can enjoy life and spend their golden years doing what they love with their humans.

Laser therapy does require several treatments to be effective long-term, meaning more trips to the vet. But what dog doesn’t love a ride in the car?

Charging for Laser Therapy at Your Veterinary Practice

Pet owners sometimes feel sticker shock at the cost of treatment for their animals, especially regarding surgery. Laser therapy helps repair tissue instead of merely masking the symptoms like medications, preventing surgery.

Aspen Laser recommends offering packaged treatment bundles to help pet owners save money and commit to a treatment plan. While arthritis is a chronic condition, laser therapy treatments are proven to reduce pain long-term, and completing a treatment plan will provide the best long-term results.

Treatment bundles offer a reduced cost overall with the commitment to a certain number of sessions. The reduced cost per treatment can be paid with each session, so owners aren’t overwhelmed with a large lump sum.

Animals are our companions, and we want to help them live their lives to the fullest. Arthritis is a painful condition that challenges the quality of life for senior dogs. Laser therapy is a safe, non-invasive, and affordable treatment to reduce the pain and deterioration of joint tissue caused by arthritis. Laser therapy helps drastically improve the quality of life of senior animals so owners and pets have more playtime together.

Aspen Laser offers class IV laser therapy systems that are light and easily transportable from room to room, meaning you can treat animals in any exam room. Learn more about our laser therapy systems through the link below.


This article was originally published in September 2019 and was last updated on March 6, 2023.

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