Veterinary laser therapy for dogs, cats, and companion pets illicits some of the best testimonials because of the absence of the placebo effect. For example, if an arthritic dog becomes noticeably more active after therapy, the causality is obvious.
In this guide, we'll explore veterinarian laser treatments, cold laser specifications and make some recommendations on systems based on our research and experience.
Unlike with human cold laser usage, the FDA does not regulate these systems for veterinary applications. Users can buy both cleared and non-cleared devices. But beware of the non-FDA-cleared products as they can be inferior in quality. These manufacturers will also make bold, unsubstantiated claims about their specs. And they also may not be around for long--like before the warranty is over.
With few exceptions, anyone can buy a cold laser for an animal or companion care. Class 4 lasers, because of the potential danger if misused, can only be sold to licensed animal care professionals. The exception is the Apollo Class 4 laser because of its extreme safety. There are no restrictions for Class 1 through 3 lasers.
Veterinary Care Treatment Types
Tissue, Skeletal, Joint, and Ligament Therapy: Treating these parts of an animal's body requires a larger diameter emitter in order to adequately and efficiently cover the injured area. The emitter's diameter size is usually between a dime and a silver dollar. Class 4 lasers over 5 watts use a laser module and a fiber optic cable to get the energy to the emitter head.
Trigger Point Therapy: A small diameter probe (emitter) is used to excite and area of the animal's body triggering a secondary reaction. The power range of these probes is usually from 1 mW to 500 mW. For best results, select a probe with at least 50 mW but not greater than 500 mW. This will leave you enough power to safely treat even the smallest animals.
Power, Pulsing and Wavelength
Based on years of experience and research, we are going to make a bold generalization about power, wavelength and pulsing. Veterinary cold laser efficacy is based:
· 60% on the power level
· 20% based on wavelength
· 20% based on pulsing frequency.
Let's say you miss the optimum wavelength and pulsing frequency, but you get the optimum power level--you'll likely still get great results.
Now flip it over: You get the optimum wavelength and pulse frequency but don't use enough power--you will not get the best results.
In order to get the consistency in results that pet owners want, you need to get all 3 right. So when shopping for veterinary cold laser, make sure there is adequate power first, then dive into the wavelengths and frequencies.
Selecting the proper wavelength is crucial because it determines the depth of penetration. Fortunately, all FDA-cleared manufacturers use similar wavelengths making selection a little easier. If you can afford it, it's best to have a system with multiple wavelengths.
Pulse frequency, especially lower pulse frequencies, is an important element for promoting healing. Continuous wave lasers are best for pain control. If you intend to focus on long-term healing, a pulsed laser if your better option. And if you can afford both pulsed and continuous wave, even better.
Advanced users such as veterinarians and vet techs treating a wide variety of conditions will probably want a multiple wavelength pulsing and continuous laser with plenty of power. If you're looking for a simple, low cost laser, buy the most power you can afford.
If you'll be treating animals several times daily and plan to make cold laser therapy a key capability, consider the DioWave D10. It has great power and flexibility--a do-it-all system for a busy practice. The Apollo Portable is easy to use, has plenty of power, and is portable making it a great system to take in the field or to use within a multiple-room practice. The Apollo Desk Top system is recommended because it has dual emitters allowing for both large treatment applications and trigger point therapy.
A do-it-all system at a lower price point is the Class 3 Avant LZ30-X. It has dual wavelengths, pulse and continuous wave output, and an easy to use menu that allows for custom setup.
And finally, at $2,700, the Laserex 3000-808-450a is one of the lowest cost options. It operates in both pulse and continuous wave modes and has good power. It was developed for treating racing greyhound dogs with chronic pain.