Category Archives: laser therapy

Treating Canine Arthritis in a Multi-Modal Fashion

By Ruthie Bently

Canine arthritis (Degenerative Joint Disease) generally affects our senior canine companions, though younger dogs can be affected also. Nowadays with the advances of veterinary medicine there are several treatment options: allopathic, homeopathic, alternative medicine and herbal remedies can help alleviate their symptoms and pain. Treating canine arthritis in a multi-modal fashion works well for many dogs, and you may find that more than one treatment will suit your dog’s needs the best.

If you go to a holistic veterinarian, some of the alternative therapies they might suggest include: acupuncture, animal chiropractic, Reiki, laser therapy, massage therapy and natural remedies. See my articles on alternative therapies and laser therapy for more information. Natural remedies work well with most dogs, though you should consult with your vet if you have a special needs dog before proceeding with treatment. Your vet may suggest a combination of natural remedies for better results. You can purchase natural remedies at your local herb, health food store or online herb store.

Perna and Greenlip mussels have been shown to assist in the restoration of connective tissues that have been damaged by canine arthritis. Several herbs have been found to be effective against the effects of canine arthritis. Comfrey given daily has been shown to be effective against arthritis. Many vets and dog owners recommend yucca to ease the pain of arthritis. It contains natural steroids that can relieve arthritis inflammation.

Stinging nettle cleans your dog’s blood and removes toxins that may exacerbate the symptoms of arthritis. It can also be made into a tea for your dog. If you don’t want to go through collecting and processing stinging nettle yourself you can get nettle extract instead. Alfalfa is good for soothing joint swelling too. Your dog’s weight and build will determine the daily dose, which will be between one teaspoon and three tablespoons.

Massage therapy is a wonderful way to bond with your dog while helping them deal with the vagaries of canine arthritis. Get an herbal oil suitable for your dog, and if you can’t find one locally then olive or sunflower oil will work too. Rubbing the oil into your dog’s joints can relieve the stiffness and relax their muscles.

A newer drug used in the treatment of canine arthritis is a joint fluid modifier. This is a long term treatment for arthritis and you may want to evaluate all your alternatives before deciding on this. Depending on the severity of the pain, your vet may suggest a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). These reduce inflammation, provide pain relief and while not curing it can slow down the disease. Dosage should be determined by your vet and monitored by you for possible side effects. You should also observe your pet closely when on these medications to make sure they don’t overdo any exercise. By reducing the inflammation your pet will feel better, though not healed, and they may want to play or exercise more than they should.

Preventative medicine is the best course, and regular exercise can help your dog’s joints, as activity delivers lubricating fluid to the joints. You don’t want to run a marathon or go too far, and should discuss the safe amount of daily exercise your dog can have with your vet. If your dog is overweight this compounds the problem and makes the situation worse. An overweight dog will suffer more pain and have more strain and pressure on their joints.

If your dog is used to jumping up on furniture, consider providing them with a set of stairs to make their ascent easier. A bed that keeps your dog off the floor or is cushioned with four or more inches of foam will help them rest their joints more comfortably. Ask your vet if adding a heating pad will help your dog’s situation.

If you suspect your dog may be suffering from canine arthritis you should have them evaluated by your veterinarian to make certain this is what the issue is. After your dog has been diagnosed, your vet will probably have several suggestions for you. Being a responsible pet owner means evaluating all the options available and choosing the ones that will best serve your dog.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Laser Therapy: What it is and How it Works


By Ruthie Bently

My beloved dog Skye had a bad accident in December and severed two ligaments in her left leg. I found out the vet used laser therapy in her rehabilitation, and as a responsible pet owner, I wanted to learn more about it.

I know lasers have been around for many years and that the word itself is an acronym (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation). The term laser was coined by Gordon Gould (a Columbia University grad student) in a paper published at a conference in 1959, and applies to a very powerful form of visible light energy in a single wavelength. I remember watching several movies where the hero was going to be cut or injured by a laser, and a Johnny Quest cartoon in the 1960s where the villains used lasers to blow up ships. So what is my vet doing using a laser on my dog?

I needn’t have worried. While lasers can be used in surgery to cut through tissue and cauterize it, laser therapy is not surgery and does not use a cutting laser. Laser therapy has been used on pets for over twenty-five years, and has gained credence as an alternative therapy. Its use as a healing therapy has been documented in over 3,000 publications. As the term laser cannot be used in any treatment other than a superficial one, another acronym was used: LEPT. This stands for Low Energy Photon Therapy, and the machine is called a “cold LASER.” The colors used most often are red (at 610 to 810 nanometers) and infrared (at 800 nanometers or higher wavelength). The color used depends on the energy needed to stimulate a specific healing process in the body.

Pulsed and continuous are the two kinds of laser therapy used by veterinarians. You should speak with your veterinarian to determine your best course of action in using laser therapy. They will be the ones best qualified to advise you on which method should be used, depending on your dog’s situation.

Continuous laser therapy is used when inflammation is present. It is used to stimulate blood vessels to increase blood circulation and heat to the area affected by the inflammation, as well as dispersing fluid buildup to the area. This method also helps to reduce any pain associated with the inflamed area and is used to help heal surgical incisions, chronic ear problems, surface injuries or wounds.

Pulsed laser therapy is used when immediate pain relief is needed. It interferes with the transmission of pain impulses to the brain and is used in pain management. It works well for long-backed dogs like Basset Hounds or Dachshunds that are prone to back pain, though it can help any dog with back pain. It is also used for overexertion during sports competitions or regular exercise, as well as arthritis.

Other health issues laser therapy is used to treat are traumas to the body due to a wound or injury to bone or muscle. Effects of surgery from the removal of a growth or a broken bone can be sped up by laser therapy. Inflammatory conditions that can be helped are gingivitis, granulomas caused by excessive licking, ear problems (either acute or chronic), inflammation of the anal glands and idiopathic cystitis (an inflammation of the bladder). Neurological conditions, nasal problems, and dermatological issues have also be cited to have been helped. Laser therapy can be used to stimulate acupuncture points for pets unable to tolerate the acupuncture needles.

A word of caution: while laser units are available for purchase by the general public, there is a danger of applying the therapy at the wrong frequency. This can cause disruptive rather than healing benefits. Protective glasses should be used, as there is a danger of eye damage to the patient, veterinarian or handler. This can happen either through reflection or directly by the beam, especially with the infrared wavelengths. Laser therapy should only be administered by a veterinarian or by someone you have been referred to by your veterinarian. While you can treat your own animal, if you treat someone else’s animal you could be cited for practicing veterinary medicine without a license. If you are considering purchasing one of these units, I strongly recommend asking your vet to teach you how to properly use it.

The benefits of laser therapy are that it can be used to treat many kinds of injuries, without drugs, pain or surgery. It stimulates the body to heal itself by using non-thermal photons administered to the body to be absorbed by the injured cells. The injured cells are stimulated and the rate of metabolism is increased. This in turn increases circulation which reduces inflammation, relieves pain and accelerates the body’s natural healing process.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.