How is laser therapy used to treat dogs?

Laser therapy is used here in our hospital for many different ailments. The most common thing we use cold laser therapy for is after surgery. After all of our surgical procedures, if warranted, we use the cold laser on the incision site to help decrease the inflammation and pain associated with the surgery itself. It helps promote blood flow in that area and decreases the time it takes for the incision to heal. The other things we use it for are chronic ear infections, which we see a lot here. We use the cold laser to help with the inflammation associated with ear infections as well. The other thing is arthritis. A lot of times, we use this laser for chronic arthritis to decrease inflammation in that area.

Dr. Daniel Anthony
Highland Park Animal Hospital

Why should I consider laser therapy for my dog?

Laser therapy is a great additional tool to use with a lot of the medications we commonly prescribe for some of these diseases. The reason why I like it is it's relatively quick. We can do a treatment typically within 10 and 15 minutes on your dog. We like to space these treatments out over a number of visits, which we will talk to you about during the exam. Without medication, we're helping the body heal itself. That's why I really like it. It has relatively low side effects, which we'll talk about soon, but it's a great additional tool for your dog or cat.

What is the difference between the different therapies, and when might the veterinarian recommend them for my dog?

Here in our hospital, we have one type of therapeutic laser, the cold therapeutic laser. Like I said earlier, we use this a lot for chronic infections, skin infections, ear infections, arthritis, and most of our surgeries. The other type of therapeutic lasers available is typically found in specialty centers. So if that's warranted for your pet, we would talk to you about referral for those specific types of therapeutics. Here, cold laser therapy is widely available for all of our patients and clients.

What conditions can laser therapy be used to treat in my dog?

The most common time I use the cold laser here is after all or most of my surgeries unless it's not warranted. We'll talk about that here in just a few minutes. I use the cold laser on all incision sites to help with healing, promote blood flow into the area, decrease inflammation, and help the body heal itself. That's really what it's doing. We use it for ear infections all the time, especially those chronic ear infections we see in the great state of Texas. The other thing I use it for is chronic wound infections. I've actually used it for a dog that had a rattlesnake bite, and we were really struggling with its wound. We were using that almost daily, and it is vastly improving the damaged site, so we're delighted with that. Other than that, we find some other uses on a case-by-case basis, but we'll talk to you about that if we think it's warranted for your pet.

What can I expect from my dog's laser therapy appointment?

Typically, if we're going to set up a session, let's say your dog has arthritis, we will offer packages here at our hospital, whether that's a package of seven, 10, et cetera, in which we would help set the dates. What would this look like? You may come in after our initial appointment, and if your dog needs laser therapy, we will bring your dog back. One of our technicians would perform the laser therapy on your dog, which, as I said, takes anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. After that's done, your dog is good to go home. There's no bandaging involved. Typically, there's nothing you have to do unless required by your veterinarian. That's what that looks like. You may be required or asked to come in every three or four days, weekly, or monthly, depending on what's going on with your dog.

How long will a laser therapy session last for my dog?

Laser therapies last anywhere from five to 15 minutes. It's really quick and easy for any of our staff members who are trained in laser therapy.

How many laser therapy sessions will my dog need?

It depends. Some dogs with chronic ear infections may only need one treatment while we treat the ear infection. Other dogs with chronic arthritis, for instance, typically require more. That's why our hospital has specific package setups to help with your dog's specific case. We would discuss what I personally think your dog would need in the exam room.

What are the risks of laser therapy?

Great question. The one big risk of laser therapy is if your dog has any cancerous skin masses that we removed. We don't recommend the laser for those instances. Those are decisions that we make and help guide you and let you know that this is not the best time to use the laser. Another risk is the issues involved if you stare into the light. We have these cool special goggles we put on because we don't want to stare into the light. Other than that, it can sometimes cause skin irritation, although it's very unlikely. I haven't seen that yet, but anything is possible. How this works is we're sending a certain wavelength of light into the tissues, and that specific wavelength will cause the inflamed tissues to respond by attracting blood flow into that area and help remove the inflammatory cells in that specific spot.

How will I know if laser therapy is working for my dog?

Great question. As I said, it depends on what we're dealing with. If your dog has arthritis, you may notice he's walking a little bit better, has less of a limp, maybe not holding his leg up as much, and getting up the stairs and furniture better. If they have skin lesions, like the case of the rattlesnake that bit a dog, causing them to lose a lot of healthy tissue and accumulate a lot of necrotic or dead tissue, we start to see healthy tissue in that area. Pink tissue and blood flow are signs of successful treatment, and we will tell you whether it looks good, if we need to have more sessions, or if this may not be working for this specific condition.

If you still have other questions and you'd like to reach out to us, you can call us directly at (214) 833-9821, or you can email us at But please do reach out, and we'll get back to you as fast as we can. Don't forget to follow us on social media,