When Tim Montague, DVM, co-owner of Eads Animal Hospital in Eads, Tenn., invested in a laser-therapy unit in early 2006, he couldn't imagine the multitude of benefits it would provide. "Deep-tissue laser therapy was in its infancy. Our uses for and aptitude with it developed over time," he says. Now Montague and his team often use laser therapy as the first treatment option for pain and inflammation rather than as a last resort. Over time, the practice has learned that laser therapy is more than a fancy tool to manage pain. Technician manager Jennifer Morton says, "AWe use Companion Laser Therapy by LiteCure to speed healing in everything... dental procedures, hot spots, and orthopedic surgery, among others. There are very few cases where we don't see improvement."
Photos by Eads Animal Hospital, Eads, Tenn.
Both Drs. Tim and Sandy Montague were familiar with surgery lasers, which they had purchased and used at separate practices. In December 2007 the Eads practice purchased a six-watt Companion Therapy Laser by LiteCure and easily trained their team to use it. Since early 2008, the practice has generated $11,285 thanks to laser therapy. "And I still think that we don't use it enough," says Dr. Montague.
"Anything inflammatory is fair game. If you've got pain, swelling, or healing, you've got a use for laser therapy," says Dr. Montague. Companion laser therapy has been used by Eads Animal Hospital and other practices to manage:
- degenerative joint and disk disease
- hip dysplasia
- dermatologic disorders (e.g., hot spots, interdigital dermatitis, acral lick granuloma)
- acute and chronic otitis
- periodontal disease (e.g., feline stomatitis)
- post-operative healing (e.g., to treat incision pain before the patient recovers from anesthesia)
- acute traumas (e.g., sprains or limps without radiographic changes or torn ligaments)
- palliative pain relief.
Benefits for your patients
The Eads practice has seen how therapeutic lasers allow their team to deliver state-of-the-art medicine. High-power, Class IV laser therapy improves patient care because it:
- is an effective drug-free treatment for pain and inflammation
- is extremely well tolerated by pets
- has no known side effects
- may decrease the need for surgery and medication
- reduces healing time
- requires no sedation or clipping
- is quick to administer (approximately 3 to 6 minutes per site).
For the most part, Eads Animal Hospital uses laser therapy as an adjunct to other therapies. They've witnessed how treatments can reduce the dosage and duration of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug therapy. Chronic disorders such as hip dysplasia are managed with aggressive treatments at first and then scaled back to maintenance programs lasting 20 to 40 days. "We let the pet tell us how much it needs," Dr. Montague says.
Meet the team
Companion laser therapy can also give owners the gift of quality time with a beloved, terminally-ill pet. Dr. Montague recommended laser therapy for a dog with terminal bone cancer that had spread to its lungs and skin. Treatments helped alleviate the pain and edema around the tumor making the dog more comfortable in its final months.