Cold Laser Therapy for Dogs with SM/SM
Dexter, my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia in 2012. Chiari malformation (CM) is when the skull is too small to hold the brain. Because of the brain growth in such a small cavity, the cerebellum and medulla are pushed out and obstruct the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid. This obstruction of normal cerebrospinal fluid, creates a buildup of pressure. This pressure can be compared to holding your finger over half of the opening of a lawn hose, preventing the water from flowing freely. That pressure then can cause fluid-filled cavities within the spinal cord known as syringomyelia (SM). Dexter’s diagnosis was a blow to my heart, to say the least.
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However, over the last eight years, I have found various ways to help him fight the pain, keep him mobile and living his best life. Dexter is on a variety of pharmaceuticals, and I implement food therapy, herbs, physical therapy, acupuncture, and cold laser treatment with the guidance of his holistic veterinarian.
Today I want to discuss cold laser treatments for dogs with Chiari Malformation (CM) and Syringomyelia (SM). Cold laser therapy works by stimulating the cells, enabling them to heal themselves more efficiently. Cold laser treatments also help reduce inflammation, relieve pain, repair tissue damage, and increase blood circulation.
Dexter receives monthly cold laser treatments from his veterinarian. If he is having a bad day, I take him into the vet office for a treatment and he feels better right afterward. Cold laser treatments have been one of the best natural treatments I started to treat Dexter’s CM and SM symptoms.
Over the years, I have seen at-home cold laser devices. They start around $100. But, knowing that the veterinarian machines cost around $10K, I figured they would not work. But I started to see my friends use them on their Cavaliers to help treat their dog’s pain. The best part, they were having success! I had to give it a try!
Dexter the Dog’s cold laser wand arrived September 8, 2020. I started his treatment on low for ten minutes, two times a day. I placed the dog laser at the base of his neck for about thirty seconds then moved it down an inch. I continued this until I reached the base of his tailbone. After two weeks, I started daily treatments. I continued on low, for ten minutes, thirty seconds on each spot.
Dexter’s results have been pretty amazing. The first thing I noticed was that Dexter had more spunk and energy throughout the day. The next thing I noted was that he wasn’t having breakthrough pain. This is when he would previously start to get a bit fidgety before his next dose of pain meds. So much improvement I ended up eliminating one of his doses! (Cleared by his vet).
Yes, I have used it on myself for mild back pain, and it certainly has helped me, too. You would think this would be enough for me. But, I really wanted to know more about how this inexpensive at-home laser was working vs. the pricey one from Dexter’s veterinarian (that we still use).
I spoke with Sara Ochoa, DVM, a small animal and exotic veterinarian in Texas and a veterinary consultant for doglab.com. This is what she had to say.
“I have a cold laser therapy machine at my vet clinic and also have one at my house for myself. I have found many of the at-home machines work just as well as the ones in the clinic. Class IV lasers are the best ones that there are. These are usually very expensive.”
The cold laser I purchased for Dexter is a 3R (class 3), 808nm, 650nm. I wasn’t sure what those numbers meant, so I asked Dr. Ochoa. She offered this information, “The 808 and 650 are the wavelengths that are used to carry the light. Class 3R is right under Class 4. Class 4 just can carry a stronger wavelength than the class 3 lasers but usually also carry a big price tag.”
Next, I wanted to know more about the four levels Dexter’s laser has. The dog laser states it has three continuous modes and one pulse mode. I wasn’t sure which would be best for Dexter’s regular at-home laser treatments. Dr. Ochoa offered this advice, “The pulse mode is for one spot, like a back injury, where the continuous mode is better for wound healing.“
Now, what about all the different timing options? Dexter’s cold laser wand has 10-30 minute settings. I wasn’t sure which would be the best route for his long-term care. Dr, Ochoa suggested, “Start off with a low time of 10 minutes and work up to about 20 minutes. Unless you are needing to use the laser on a big dog, one single spot would not need a 30-minute session.” She also recommends moving the laser very slowly to each spot instead of moving it around quickly on the dog.
I was curious about how often I should give Dexter a cold laser treatment, especially since he has a lifelong condition vs. a trauma that would heal. Dr. Ochoa suggests, “With any dogs that I have needing laser treatment, I start off with 2 to 3 times a week and then slowly work back to only once a week.” I am still providing Dexter with daily treatment, but I’m going to start to do it every other day and see how it goes.
If your dog suffers from an ongoing inflammatory condition, I would highly recommend speaking with your holistic veterinarian about at-home cold laser treatment. It has made a vast improvement in Dexter’s treatment plan.
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