Laser Therapy

Class IV Laser Therapy

Here at Guntersville Animal Hospital we use a Class IV Laser Therapy for post-surgical care, wound management, arthritis pain management, as well as many other conditions. This accelerates tissue repair and growth, promotes faster wound healing, provides analgesia (pain relief) and decreases inflammation. It also creates vasodilation, improves lymphatic drainage and nerve function, axonal regeneration and neurologic repair. We also use our laser as an acupuncture stimulation to reduce chronic and acute neck and back pain. This type of laser provides the benefits of oral or injectable medications for pets in pain without many of the commonly associated side effects.

While no treatment is always successful when dealing with chronic ailments, our experience with laser therapy has been overwhelmingly positive. Many of our patients are significantly improved with a decrease in the amount of drugs used.

Laser treatment is suitable for dogs and cats and is free from side effects. The science behind this modality is well established as laser is able to penetrate deeply into the tissue providing energy to promote healing. Laser energy also affects nerves directly reducing the transmission of pain signals to the central nervous system. The net result is increased rate of healing and decreased pain.

After an initial consultation with Dr. Young to plan therapy, treatments are completed by our staff of laser certified technicians and typically take between 10-20 minutes. Most pets benefit from the therapy within the first 2-3 sessions scheduled in the first week of treatment. Thereafter, sessions are reduced in frequency to a maintenance schedule based on the duration of benefit for your pet, usually every 2-4 weeks.

Please come by our office to talk with us further about this type of treatment therapy and pricing.


Class IV Laser Therapy – Reference Article

First, I am particular about the terminology of laser therapy as there are many misperceptions and misrepresentations. So this is not a discussion of “light” therapy but “laser” therapy. More specifically, we are talking mainly about high power laser therapy. Although “cold” lasers or low level lasers work on the same principles, they often do not have enough power to elicit a measurable or consistent clinical response in deep musculoskeletal conditions.

Newer high-powered Class IV therapy lasers were FDA cleared in the U.S. in 2005. Their use has grown dramatically in the past two years.

The two key parameters that dictate the function or capability of any laser are wavelength and power. Laser therapy works by a wavelength-specific form of photobiomodulation.

Laser light in the red and near-infrared range is absorbed by specific chromophores in the body (cytochrome C oxi dase/hemoglobin./water) and this has a positive effect on specific biological reactions.

This photochemical reaction increases blood flow to tissue, stimulates the release of 0 2 from the hemoglobin delivered and enhances the conversion of 02 to useful energy by cytochrome C oxidase in the production of ATP. This leads to improved cellular function and/or an increase in cell growth, replication, repair or production of beneficial biochemical compounds—enzymes, proteins, immunoglobulins, DNA/RNA.

There are other physiologic responses to laser light: A mild photothermal effect (with Class IV lasers only) helps with vasodilation, muscle relaxation and nerve conduction. The photoenergetic effect can stimulate acupuncture points, and the photoelectrical effect can affect membrane-bound ion channels and induce changes in the intracellular and extracellular ion gradients.

The clinical results of these cellular reactions are:

  • Accelerated tissue repair and growth
  • Faster wound healing
  • Analgesia
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Angiogenesis
  • Vasodilation
  • Improved lymphatic drainage
  • Improved nerve function, axonal regeneration, neurologic repair
  • Decreased fibrosis
  • Immunoregulation/Immu_nomodulation
  • Acupuncture stimulation
  • Trigger point modulation

Laser power is the rate at which the laser energy is delivered. Although seemingly straightforward, the power question seems to raise the most discussion regarding appropriate parameters. The physics associated with laser penetration within non-pigmented tissue is well established and quantified by the rate of decay of an incident beam as it moves through tissue.

It can be approximated by the optical penetration depth of a given wavelength— the distance into tissue to which photons of that wavelength will travel where the incident beam is decreased by 63 percent. The power argument is almost exclusively associated with therapeutic lasers; all other types—surgical, aesthetic, dental, industrial—follow the basic science and physics when determining proper power guidelines for use.

The FDA classifies lasers based on the maximum power the laser can deliver. The maximum power is used for guidance when discussing safety and the potential to cause harm or damage, especially to the eye.

Most therapeutic lasers are class Ma, Mb or IV. Class Mb lasers produce < 500 mW of power (1/2 watt). Class N lasers are anything over 500mW of power. Class N therapy lasers are extremely safe. The main benefit of higher power is the ability to deliver enough photons at the surface (a larger total dose) to compensate for the power loss (decreased number of photons) reaching deeper tissues.

This allows for a more direct photochemical response on these tissues. -AL That is why there is a much more dramatic and consistent response to class N laser therapy than class III lasers or light emitting diodes, or LEDs.

Lower dosages are used when treating superficial wounds or lesions and for acupuncture point or trigger point stimulation. Adjustable power output can make a Class N laser effective for superficial dermatologic lesions, deep musculoskeletal conditions and anywhere in between.

Laser therapy has broad clinical applications for pain management, wound healing, reducing inflammation/ swelling/edema, and rehab in both large and small animals. Measurable positive results are seen consistently in the following conditions:

  • Arthritis/DJD (hip dysplasia)
  • Muscle, ligament and tendon injuries (sprains, strains and tears)
  • Ulcerations and open wounds (lick granulomas, lot spots, abscesses)
  • Acute and chronic ear problems
  • Post-surgical pain, healing, rehab
  • Trauma and fractures
  • Neck and back pain (acute and chronic)
  • Neuromuscular disease, damage, degeneration
  • Even some respiratory, urinary and gastrointestinal conditions

Notwithstanding years of research on the biostimulatory effects of laser light, we are just starting to realize all the clinical applications. Exciting new possibilities include help with osteochondrosis dissecans, chronic rhinitis/bronchitis, insect and snake bites, allergic reactions, chronic intestinal or urinary tract inflammation, bacterial/viral infections, adjunct therapy to improve stem cell results and even potentially for the control or palliation of some tumors.

There is also OPtiNaisril for nela-iaKAQ, trauma including concussions, brain ischemia and stroke, peripheral nerve damage, IVDD and stenosis.

It’s worth emphasizing that laser therapy does not just accelerate healing; it actually improves repair, regeneration and remodeling of tissue.

Post-op complications are reduced. Muscle atrophy can be reversed. Type 1 collagen production yields better tendon and ligament strength and elasticity. There is a positive effect on neurologic function and axonal sprouting. The joint capsule, synovial lining and fluid, and cartilage all benefit. Therefore range of motion, function, flexibility and mobility are all enhanced.

The potential for re-injury is greatly reduced. Performance animals not only recover quicker but they can regain their competitive edge. Pets can get back to their daily routines and become active members of the family again.

These are exciting times. As with all technology, lasers have become smaller, safer, more efficient and easier to use. Their broad range of applications makes them not just affordable but profitable— especially when treatments are delegated to the support staff. It’s no wonder that therapeutic lasers are rapidly becoming indispensable tools in thousands of clinics.

• Dr. Bradley is a fellow of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.


Contact and Hours

Phone:  256-582-3184
Fax:  256-582-8139

Mon-Fri 7:30 AM - 5:30 PM
Saturday 7:30 AM - Noon
Closed Sunday


Guntersville Animal Hospital & Surgery Center
1609 Henry Street
Guntersville, AL 35976

We are located right behind the Finley Plaza Shopping Center on Hwy 69 before going across the causeway toward Arab.  The Guntersville Memorial Chapel Funeral Home is also next to us.


If our staff cannot be reached after hours (256-505-1878) due to being out of cell service and you have a medical emergency, please immediately call Huntsville Veterinary Emergency. They can be reached any hour we are closed (weeknights, weekends, or holidays) throughout the year at 256-715-8389.



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