Pain Management and the Use of Cold Laser Therapy

Pain Management and the Use of Cold Laser Therapy

We all have an idea about what pain is, but can you recognize it in your pet?  If pain is diagnosed by your veterinarian what is the best way to deal with it?

Most people are not very good at recognizing when their pet is experiencing pain.  Cats are especially good at hiding pain.  Cats only let you know that something is wrong when the pain is fairly advanced.  Signs of pain in cats may be loss of appetite, excessive grooming or lack of grooming, vocalizing or loss of mobility.

Early signs of pain in dogs and cats can manifest in numerous ways including; hiding, increased signs of fear, anxiety or aggression, decreased appetite or inability to eat kibble in the case of dental pain, salivation, sitting in one place and staring, decreased interaction with owner, decreased play and reduction in normal activity.  The key to successful intervention is finding the pain and treating it early.

Once you have taken your pet to the veterinarian and a  painful condition is diagnosed, there are options to treat the condition.  Multimodal pain management is the current term used for using multiple ways to treat pain.

We are familiar with the common medications used in people, but did you know that these same medications may be deadly to your pet?  One Tylenol can kill your cat.  NSAIDS such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen can cause kidney failure and gastric ulcers and bleeding after one or two doses.  So these are not an option!

There are a number of medications that may be safely prescribed by your veterinarian including safe, veterinary prescribed medication made for pets, and other drugs that have more recently shown great promise to help manage chronic pain in animals.

Nutritional supplements including EPA and DHA, or specific fish oils may help reduce inflammation. Joint supplements and therapeutic diets may help some patients with chronic pain due to joint disease.

Other modalities including acupuncture, chiropractic or a comprehensive physical therapy plan are often  beneficial.

Cold laser or photobiomodulation therapy is a less known modality and  has recently become widely available to veterinary patients.  Laser therapy is a non-invasive, drug-free option using light energy directed at the site of pain and inflammation.  Patients often see immediate relief to their painful condition with lasting benefits.

This therapy is used to treat many of our pets common acute and chronic conditions including; post surgical pain, dental pain, injuries, wounds, abscesses, fractures, sprains, abdominal pain, arthritis, dermatitis, inflamed ears, back and neck pain due to intervertebral disc disease and so on.

Laser therapy is proving immensely beneficial in the management of acute and chronic painful conditions.  It is also known to reduce inflammation and promote healing by working at the cellular level.

Your veterinarian may prescribe one or more laser therapy treatments depending on the type of condition.  Chronic pain management can be achieved with intense up front therapy followed by less frequent applications as needed.

Pain is a manifestation of disease.  There is no one magic bullet to eliminate all pain but with an accurate diagnosis and the right combination of therapies your pet can be comfortable and obtain a higher quality of life.

Your veterinarian is your best resource in diagnosing and treating your pet.

For more information on options to treat your pet’s pain, please contact us at 651-430-2229 and visit our website at

Dr. Ginger Garlie

Past President of the Minnesota Veterinary Medical Association

Owner of Rivertown Animal Hospital in Stillwater, Minnesota