K Laser Treatment Effective in Treating Arthritis and Inflammation in Pets

At last there is a safe, effective, natural treatment to ease your pet’s arthritic pain! 

We are excited to announce that Animal Hospital of North Asheville has purchased the strongest Therapeutic Laser currently available. This technology is FDA approved to relieve arthritic pain and inflammation in people, and has been shown to help 85% of dogs and cats. Several of our patients have already received treatments for their osteoarthritis pain and their families are amazed at the improvement that they have seen. 

"Huck has had a lot of relief from his arthritis pain. The laser treatment really loosens him up," said Beverly Devereux, AHNA client and Huck's owner. "Huck is a 10-year-old Labrador Retriever and ever since he was a puppy he has had stiffness in his front legs. When I brought him in to AHNA, Huck was suffering from arthritis pain and a hot spot. Within two days the hot spot was completely healed. Huck seems to enjoy the actual treatment. It's like he's getting a massage! He really relaxes; I think the treatment must feel good to him. I've been very pleased with the results Huck has gotten."

Another AHNA client, Lorrie Pallas, told us about her dog Dolly's experience. "Dolly has very severe arthritis in both hips. I have done everything medically possible short of surgery to help her out, so I decided to give the laser treatment a try. I've been very pleased with her results so far. Normally it takes Dolly 3-4 tries to get into my car, but after she receives the laser treatment she doesn't hesitate - she just jumps into the car as if it is the easiest thing to do. She has definitely been more active since receiving treatment."

Do I just call to schedule and appointment?
If your pet is our patient and has been diagnosed with arthritis, call our office and your veterinarian here will prescribe which joints are to be treated by the therapy technician, and we will schedule an appointment for your pet. If you suspect arthritis but it has not been diagnosed, your veterinarian should examine your pet to rule out other possible diagnoses before an appointment for therapy can be made. If your pet is not a patient at Animal Hospital of North Asheville, your veterinarian can obtain a referral form to send your pet for therapy or you can schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians for an exam and diagnosis. A typical protocol is twice weekly treatments for six weeks and then as needed.

What is a Therapeutic Laser treatment like?
Treatments are performed on a soft bed in an exam room and one member of the pet’s family is encouraged to be present during the treatment. Your presence, treats and soft voices help your pet to relax. Your pet will only feel slight warmth at the treatment area (there is absolutely nothing painful about the treatment), so pets enjoy the treatments. The Veterinary Technician who performs the treatment will spend approximately 30 minutes treating up to 4 different areas that have been identified as problem areas by your pet’s veterinarian. Initially a series of six appointments are spaced out and given over the first three weeks. Some pets show immediate improvement, but generally improvement is not seen until the fifth or sixth treatment. Once the series is completed, you will know if your pet is in the 85% who respond favorably. Additional treatments are done at the interval needed by your pet to maintain the comfort achieved - some at one or two month intervals. 

What About Medications?
If your pet is already being treated with pain relievers or steroids to ease arthritic pain, Therapeutic Laser treatments may allow you to decrease or possibly even discontinue the use of medication and thus decrease or eliminate the possibility of harmful side effects from the medications. If your pet has severe arthritis or was late in starting any arthritis treatments, you may need to combine Laser Treatments with other modalities of treatment.. You may also discuss laser treatments at your pet’s next annual or semi annual comprehensive exam. 

How would I know that my pet has arthritis?
Pets can’t talk, so you must be careful to watch for signs as they age. A decrease in activity is often the first sign. Slowness in rising, especially in the morning is a common symptom. They just aren’t up and running around as much as they used to. Your pet may seem a little weak in the rear legs and reluctant to use stairs. Difficulty getting in and out of the car is another sign. Treating the arthritis early is always best, so be aware of subtle signs. Treating early allows them to stay active which is a benefit in itself. Regular exercise, but not extremes of exercise, has actually been shown to decrease the progression of arthritis pain which is why treating early to keep them active is so important. 

How soon should arthritis be addressed?
We now know that it is best to be pro-active with arthritis. Delaying allows even subtle discomfort to progress to muscle atrophy and loss of range of motion.  We often hear people express thinking like, “He is a little slow on rising in the morning, but then minutes later he can chase the squirrel across the yard…oh, he’s ok.” Early arthritis does not necessitate extreme measures, but we now know that if we control early discomfort, many pets will “self physical therapy themselves.” All they need is a little help. Some pets will benefit from more intervention during cold months.

Is Therapeutic Laser the only treatment?
No, definitely not. In fact, in some cases, it may be necessary to use a combination of treatments. The current “buzz word” in treating arthritis is multi modal.  By “attacking” arthritis in two or three or four ways, each of which addresses the arthritis a little differently, better results are obtained while using lower doses. First of all, provide soft bedding, a warm area for sleeping, and provide an environment with non-slip surfaces (carpet is better than hard wood or tile) to help them stay active. Therapeutic food is available for both dogs and cats called J/D. This prescription diet supplies your pet with nutraceuticals in the proper ratio and has been documented to aid your pet against the pain and discomfort of osteoarthritis and is a very safe and effective treatment. Additionally, pain relievers can be prescribed as needed. Some pain relievers called NSAIDS actually decrease the inflammation of osteoarthritis and help slow the progress, but pain relievers in general are given just to keep the pet comfortable and help keep them active.  Medication use, especially NSAIDs used long term, should be closely monitored. Until the Therapeutic Laser came out for arthritis treatment, medications to treat the pain were really our most effective tool and absolutely necessary to provide for a comfortable life in many cases. Now, with the Therapeutic Laser, we are excited to offer a treatment that is absolutely safe and natural and is effective in approximately 85% of cases. Laser treatments can be purchased individually or discounted in a group of six.

For more about arthritis and specific information on Therapeutic Laser and how it works, read below.  You may also go to ahna.net click on “Resources” and then click on “Pet Health Articles” in the drop-down list.  Search for Arthritis.

Why do pets become arthritic?
Because of good preventative healthcare, pets are living much longer. Veterinarians are seeing age related diseases much more frequently and arthritis is at the top of the list. Rheumatoid arthritis is somewhat rare in pets but can be tested for if indicated. Pets develop osteoarthritis of joints frequently. Because it comes on slowly, pets seldom complain and many pet owners misinterpret symptoms as normal aging. Sometimes joints are affected at an early age because an injury causes instability or damage to the joint’s  surface cartilage. Many breeds are genetically predisposed to develop arthritis, most notably is hip arthritis, commonly termed hip dysplasia. German Shepherds are especially prone to this condition, but many large breeds such as Labrador and Golden Retrievers are also predisposed. Approximately 40% of American pets are overweight and develop early onset arthritis or worse than expected arthritis because of their weight. Working dogs or dogs that have had extremely active lives are predisposed. Often, arthritis is simply a deterioration of joints from “wear and tear” and is a part of aging. Hips and spine are especially affected.  

Is “slowing down” or decreased mobility always arthritis?
Every veterinarian can think of horror story cases where a little slowing down or rear leg weakness or stumbling turned out to be something much more serious than osteoarthritis. Weakness that occurs due to cancer is one example. Conditions that occur suddenly,  such as a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament in the knee, should be diagnosed and treated quickly. It is not uncommon for pet owners to misinterpret spinal problems as arthritis. A common one, degenerative myelopathy, is a slowly progressing deterioration of the spinal cord, occurring with age and is fairly easily identified with a physical examination. Sacro-iliac instability, discospondylisis and intervertebral disc disease may all be confused with osteoarthritis, and are treatable, especially when identified early.

Is the Therapeutic Laser used to treat anything other than osteoarthritis? 
Yes, there is a list below, but it is especially helpful in speeding the healing of wounds.

Healing their pain… changing their life.

About K-Laser

What is Laser Therapy?
Laser Therapy, or “photobiomodulation”, is the use of specific wavelengths of light (red and near-infrared) to create therapeutic effects. These effects include improved healing time, pain reduction, increased circulation and decreased swelling. Laser Therapy has been widely utilized in Europe by physical therapists, nurses and doctors as far back as the 1970’s. Now, after FDA clearance in 2002, Laser Therapy is being used extensively in the United States.

Has effectiveness been demonstrated scientifically?
Yes. There are thousands of published studies demonstrating the clinical effectiveness of Laser Therapy. Among these, there are more than one hundred rigorously controlled, scientific studies that document the effectiveness of Laser Therapy for many clinical conditions.

Cellular Effects of Laser Therapy
During Laser Therapy the infrared laser light interacts with tissues at the cellular level, and metabolic activity increases within the cell, improving the transport of nutrients across the cell membrane. This initiates the increased production of cellular energy (ATP) that leads to a cascade of beneficial effects, increasing cellular function and health.

Laser Therapeutic Effects
During each painless treatment, laser energy increases circulation, drawing water, oxygen, and nutrients to the damaged area. This creates an optimal healing environment that reduces inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness, and pain. As the injured area returns to normal, function is restored and pain is relieved.

What to Expect
There is no patient sedation or restraint required and the experience is usually pleasant and comforting to them.

Most pets do not need to have their hair clipped. 

Although improvement is often seen after the first visit, most patients require several treatments [3 to 8] for greatest benefit. For most conditions, we recommend a multi-visit treatment plan. Treatments vary in length, but most sites require 2 to 8 minutes. A majority of patients exhibit greater comfort and mobility within 12 to 24 hours after a laser treatment.

Class IV Laser Therapy treatments are cumulative in nature. The length and frequency of treatments varies with your pet’s condition. Your veterinarian will recommend a treatment plan specific to your pet’s condition.

Numerous studies show that Laser Therapy can help with:
• Osteoarthritis    • Joint Pain
• Tendinopathies    • Edema and Congestion
• Ligament Sprains    • Muscle Strains
• Puncture Wounds    • Post-Traumatic Injury
• Post-Surgical Pain    • Neck and Back Pain
• Hip Dysplasia    • Burns
• Chronic Wounds    • Rehabilitation
• Post-Orthopedic Surgical Recovery

Reintroduction to Activity
Laser Therapy can relieve pain, reduce swelling and increase range of motion.

Often the patient will exhibit renewed energy and freedom of movement. Consult your veterinarian before your pet returns to full activity. A gradual introduction of activity may be suggested to insure the patient does not aggravate the condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does it hurt? What does a treatment feel like? There is little or no sensation during treatment. Occasionally the patient feels mild, soothing warmth, or tingling. Areas of pain or inflammation may be sensitive briefly before pain reduction. 

Are there any side effects or associated risks? During more than twenty years of use by healthcare providers all over the world, very few side effects have ever been reported. Occasionally some old injuries or pain syndromes may feel aggravated for a few days, as the healing response is more active after treatment. 

How long does each treatment take? The typical treatment time is 3 to 8 minutes depending on the size of the area being treated. 

How often should a patient be treated? Acute conditions may be treated daily, particularly if they are accompanied by significant pain. More chronic problems respond better when treatments are received 2 to 3 times a week, tapering to once every week or two as improvement is seen. 

How many treatments does it take? This depends on the nature of the condition being treated. For some acute conditions 1-2 treatments may be sufficient. Those of a more chronic nature may require 5 to 8 (or more) treatments. Some conditions may require ongoing periodic care to control pain. 

How long before the results are felt? Your pet may feel improvement in their condition (usually pain reduction) after the first treatment. Sometimes they will not feel improvement for a number of treatments.  This does not mean that nothing is happening. Each treatment is cumulative and results are often felt after 3 or 4 sessions. 

Can it be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment? Yes! Laser Therapy is often used with other forms of therapy, including physical therapy, chiropractic adjustments, massage, soft tissue mobilization, electrotherapy and following surgery. Other healing modalities are complementary and can be used with laser to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.

Laser therapy was born from scientific research over 30 years ago in Europe and perfected by K-LaserUSA with the latest technological advancements.


Answer from our Patient Care Coordinator, Lorraine:
Laser therapy does need what we call tune ups. All dogs and cats are different in how long between tune ups - some go months, some weeks. My dog, Susie, (a 17 year-old Lab mix with a lot of arthritis) had her first 6 treatments from 11/14/11 - 2/11/11. Her next treatment was on 1/19/12, then 3/27/12, and then 6/26/12. I hope this helps!

Max, an eleven year old lab - chow mix, is suffering from arthritis. It is most visually evident when he walks. His limp in the front legs is pronounced on some days. Current medication includes Novox (75 mg 2x/day) and Tramadol (75 mg 2x/day).
Our vet has recommended laser treatments. When asked about how she would apply the laser, she indicated that she would treat the rear leg joints first, one leg at a time.
How is the treatment site typically determined? One would think the front leg joints would be first. Also, is it typical that only one, possibly two sites (joints) are done per treatment? After watching some of the on-line videos of this treatment, it seems that many joints,if not all legs are treated in one visit.
Is the typical charge for a treatment based on the number of sites treated or on an hourly rate?
Thank you for the importunity to ask these questions.
Max' Dad

We cannot say what is normal for another animal hospital. At AHNA, a 30min treatment for 6 visits would total $236.25 - 1 hour treatments at 6 visits (6 hours total) is $413.44. The number of sites we treat in the amount of time allowed is different according to size of pet. For a small pet we can treat 8 sites in 30min, while we can only treat 4 sites on a large dog in the same amount of time. I hope this helps.

Many pets demonstrate improvement after the first treatment and most patients require three to eight treatments for greatest benefit. Class IV Laser Therapy treatments are cumulative and the length and frequency of treatments varies with your pet’s condition and response. A sample treatment schedule is every other day for one week (3 total), then twice the second week and then once the third week. Repeat treatments are as needed and might be weekly, monthly or every other month. Laser Therapy can be used for treatment or chronic discomfort and is often used following surgery for the anti-inflammation, anti-pain, accelerated tissue repair and cell growth properties. Many times, using combinations of therapies (laser and medications) give the best results.

One thing that perhaps you should know about laser therapy is that patients love it! It feels good and you can be right there with them as they experience it.

Dr. Dave Thompson

My 9 year old Labrador, Lottie, has been receiving K-laser over the past three or four months for treatment of her bilateral elbow dysplasia, and general osteoarthritis, with the most amazing results, and obvious relief of stiffness and pain. Unfortunately, the sudden appearance of a tumour inside her cheek, which was excised last week, four days after it was discovered (and during which time it had grown from a pea-size to a walnut size) and which has been diagnosed as a sarcoma. The therapist is now very concerned that we shouldn't do any more K-laser, as this is apparently contra-indicated for any form of malignancy. Please can you advise what the evidence to date indicates with regard to this. Could the K-laser have contributed to the sarcoma in the first place? what would your recommendation be for future treatment?

828-253-3393 - we prefer not to give this kind of specific medical information over the internet. Thanks so much!