A Dog’s Eye View: Caring for senior dogs Part 4
March 14, 2013
Editor's note: This is the fourth part of a series about caring for senior dogs.
Throughout its life, a dog might have joint pain, muscle sprains and nerve injuries much like humans do. During my dog Zoey's 15 years, she suffered the occasional bout of structure discomfort and imbalance, even though she lived a fairly accident-free life. As I watched her age and her body become more frail, I wanted to do everything I could to ease her pain. Along with the acupuncture and chiropractic therapies I've written about in past "Caring for senior dogs" articles, she also received treatments using a cold or low-level laser.
Cold laser therapy is a painless, noninvasive process by which concentrated beams of light are focused briefly on a particular part of the body to relieve tension or pain by stimulating cell regeneration and increasing blood circulation. The improved cell production and blood flow aids in allowing the body to heal and regain its natural strength and flexibility. There is no heat involved in cold laser therapy, so it can be held directly on the skin or slightly above without the fur having to be shaved.
The laser is aimed at one spot and held there for several seconds. The beam of light contains photons that penetrate into the tissue, are absorbed by cells that are not functioning properly because of injury or disease and increase cell productivity, according to http://www.vetinfo.com.
In other words, the process causes the targeted cells to communicate with the other healthy cells to request help in rebuilding.
Zoey was having treatments to minimize the effects of her weakening hind quarters as well as to treat issues she was experiencing with her bladder. Cold laser treatments have been used to treat multiple conditions and ailments in pets as well as humans, including injuries to joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves; abrasions or lesions to the skin; and bone fractures. The treatment also is used to aid in the post-surgery recovery process. Cold laser treatments seek to reduce inflammation and to improve fluid and cartilage production, thereby reducing the pain which might have been restricting your dog's mobility.
Each session Zoey had was brief and peaceful. My veterinarian, I and Zoey all donned goggles prior to the treatments as a precautionary measure. Zoey stretched out on the bed and allowed the laser to be placed at various points along her body, stimulating the energies within. If I had any question about the effectiveness, all I needed to do was watch Zoey as her eyes closed and her body softened into the cushions surrounding her. Animals don't fake it, so if a treatment like this is making them feel more comfortable, you will know it by observing their reactions.
Zoey's sessions usually were combined with acupuncture, which added to the overall healing process for her.
Each dog and each condition is different, so discuss treatment options with your veterinarian.
Lisa Mason is an experienced dog training instructor with the Total Teamwork Training group. Her specialties include new puppy owner education and management.