Dog cold laser therapy facts

The Reality of Cold Laser Treatment for Dogs

Snap. Crackle. Pop. The sounds of a cereal but also the sounds my dog’s leg made in early 2013 when he partially tore his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), sometimes called CCL. After a fun play session at the park in early March, my dog, Dexter, developed a lameness and bit of a hobble gait at night and after rising from a resting position. Despite rest and not allowing him to jump off furniture nor walk up or down stairs, a significant difference did not occur. A vet visit was in order.

After a thorough examination and a bit of manipulation, flexion and extension movements, a diagnosis was made: A partially torn ACL and a strained iliopsoas muscle. Further stress on the leg could lead to a full tear and could also cause the right unaffected leg to weaken due to extra compensation from shift of weight. This same anomaly affects people.

Dog cold laser therapy facts

We opted for cold laser therapy in order to help the injury along, promote blood flow and healing to the torn ligament, and hopefully not have to go the surgical route. Six sessions total took place and the experience itself was positive and one we highly recommend (cold laser for dogs). The ligament did eventually fully tear and surgery ensued.

However, cold laser treatment is something we would recommend and would do again. Here’s the reality and why:

What is Cold Laser Therapy for Dogs?

Cold laser therapy is an FDA-cleared modality that reduces inflammation and that results in pain reduction. Laser therapy is effective in treating acute pain, chronic conditions, and post-operative pain.

Our First Experience with Cold Laser Treatment

After a thorough examination and agreement on the ACL partial tear diagnosis, a treatment began, consisting of six treatments of laser therapy lasting 15-20 minutes each along with range of motion exercises, intermittent treatment with ice and heat, and continue the rest/limited leash walks the vet recommended.

The dog is taken into a room where a doggie bed and inviting blanket await. The laser machine itself reminds me of those mobile blood pressure units at the doctor’s office. No drugs or sedation is required, and the only equipment your dog wears is a pair of protective laser-type Doggles. All parties in the room need to wear them.

Interestingly, this is one of the few modalities of treatment where humans have been the guinea pigs first. Laser therapy has been used in physical therapy programs for at least 40 years on people. This is cold laser therapy, so there is no burning involved, and according to the veterinarian at the rehab center, though risk of burn does exist, one would need to place the laser on the skin for a longer period of time. The laser treatment as our dog received it, involves short and continual movements over the affected areas.

Cocker veterinarian

Costs of Cold Laser Treatment

The cost of the first visit, consult, exam and session was $90. The next five sessions were $200, so it was very reasonable. Our veterinary pet health insurance covered about 70 percent of that cost, so it was a win-win.

Why Does Cold Laser Therapy Work?

“As more veterinary schools adopt laser therapy and teach its basic science to students, growing numbers of practitioners will recognize that laser therapy, when properly applied and appropriately dosed, provides clinically significant benefits and expands our options for delivering compassionate veterinary care with fewer drugs and less surgery,” according to Veterinary Practice News.

It involves no drugs, no pain, and is a non-surgical viable option. It is not one and done and treatments can occur with a pre-determined schedule.

The cold laser uses a beam of light as it gently passed over the affected area so that the cellular function is increased. This new cellular function may help reduce inflammation, increase circulation, help your dog’s recovery and healing postoperatively, and even releases endorphins so the body feels less pain. During our visits, many arthritic dogs could be seen checking in for appointments with the cold laser therapists.

Each dog is different. Our dog’s ACL  did progress to a full tear, but I am fully confident that the treatments received with the cold laser therapy helped control inflammation and pain from the partial tear. I would not hesitate to use cold laser therapy treatments for my dog in the future for any number of issues, including arthritis.

dog waiting for cold laser treatment

Cold Laser Therapy for Dogs Facts

  • LASER means Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission Rays.
  • A laser-certified technician is likely to do the treatments on your dog, which last about 15-30 minutes each, depending on the issue, location, and the dog.
  • Laser therapy is used for everything from arthritis to ligament injuries, nerve damage to ear and skin infections and inflammation. Yes, you read that right: Ear infections: Are you hearing me, Cocker parents? If traditional medicine is not helping, many times cold laser might!
  • There are different types of lasers for dogs. Therapeutic lasers are not all the same. According to VCA Hospitals, in veterinary medicine, “The two classes of therapeutic laser in common use are class III and class IV. Class III therapeutic lasers are lower powered and typically use shorter wavelengths. Class IV therapeutic lasers are higher powered and use longer wavelengths.”
  • Dogs do not have to be shaved in the area of cold laser treatment.
  • Laser therapy overall improves the way tissue repairs and renews itself.
  • “Cold laser has limitations. It can be harmful for pets with cancer, and it shouldn’t be directed at the retina of the eye or over tattoos, or areas of active bleeding,” per an article by Dr. Marty Becker for the Sacramento Bee. VCA Hospitals say therapeutic laser should not be used over areas of active bleeding or over the eyes, testicles, tumors, pregnancies, or growth plates in the bones.
  • If you are like us and want to geek out on the techie end of things, check out what the Merck Veterinary Manual says about laser therapy for dogs in general.

medicine versus mom

Medicine Vs. Mom

In an effort to give our readers a full breadth of knowledge on dog health and wellness topics, we are sharing the perspective of former veterinary technician, Rachel Shephard of My Kid Has Paws. Check out her take on cold laser therapy for dogs.

Don’t Stop Now

Keep reading on how you can help keep your dog healthy with these related articles:

Everything Guide to Dog ACL Injuries

Dog Parents Guide to Safely Slowing Dog Arthritis

Other Dogs Who Used Cold Laser Therapy

In the pet blogging world, we know many other dog moms with a dog who received cold laser treatment and their experiences. These posts are worth checking out:

Lessons from a Paralyzed Dog

You Did What With Your Weiner

Would you ever consider cold laser therapy for your dog? Has your dog ever received it? Let us know in the comments below.

*Note: These results are reflective of our journey and not a promise nor indication of your dog’s journey. Please see a veterinarian before starting any treatment for your own dog(s).


    1. I have been looking for alternative treatment for both my dogs. I would like to give this a try but practitioners are thin on the ground in the Hunter Valley NSW.

      I need to find out more re whether or not I could administer this treatment myself and where I could do some training if that was required..

      Also whether I could use this trearment on my own painful legs.

  1. i have been using cold light laser for many, many yrs on my girls. i may do acupuncture in addition. it really helps. my vet also does chiropractic adjustments and may do cold light therapy afterwards. my oldest has cancer and both vets, her reg vet and cancer vet said there would be no problems doing this.

  2. I’ve not used cold laser treatments for my pets or myself, but it definitely sounds like an option I would consider. I like that it’s much simpler to deliver and very affordable. Thanks for sharing!

  3. My little boy came to me with a twitchy leg. He can run but his leg never stops twitching 24/7.
    He walks mostly on 3 legs and on the toes of the other. I have taken him to two doctors who have never seen this before One was a east west doctor I thought acupressure or puncture something Chineses would help.
    They were terrible. I was in shock how they treated him.
    Where can I take my little 12 pounder to get this cold therapy. He lived most of his life at the pound because no one wanted him. So sad, he was set to be put to sleep in two days and my friend helped me rescued that angel.
    He deserves a good life and I want him healthy. I love him so much. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    1. I am so sorry for everything that is happening to your little one.

      You would need to ask around in your area or where you can drive to. It is called cold laser therapy. Many hugs.

  4. My Lhasa Apso had joint paint and when we took him to the vet they offered cold laser therapy. I was surprised at how much it helped!

  5. We did cold laser therapy for my dog after CCL surgery, and it helped with her recovery TREMENDOUSLY! We actually bought an unlimited plan through our vet that allowed us to come as often as necessary over the course of 6 months. We took her weekly, and could tell a difference once we stopped. We re-upped the plan and took her bi-weekly for another 6 months. Now we just take her any time her leg starts acting up again. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is considering alternative pain and healing treatments for their fur babies!

  6. Before I read this article, I didn’t think about how humans were the lab rats in pet laser surgery. It is interesting that this has been used for 40 years on humans. I’ll have to keep this in mind if our pets get injured.

  7. I am a HUGE advocate for cold laser treatments for dogs. My first experience with it was on a 12-year-old OES who had arthritis in his elbows. I had the treatments done by a mobile vet. My OES, Higgins, would actually scream in excitement when he saw them arrive (no lie – I had never seen a dog do that!). It made a tremendous difference in his mobility, so much so that we bought a consumer model from Amazon for ourselves. I would give the model info but don’t want to get ‘flamed’ by somebody accusing me of being a ‘shill’ for a product.

    Just recently I started using it on another OES, Murphy, who had spinal decompression surgery when he was 1 1/2. He’s now over 12 and seems to ache in every joint in his body. I used the cold laser on him daily, rotating around his body and treating his spine and every joint and muscle at least once a week, for about 5 minutes on a site. Probably kept that up for 6 weeks or so. When he got to the point that he seemed to be doing much better, I weaned him off, so he is no longer receiving treatment (wasn’t sure if I could over do it). I am not exaggerating when I say he is almost like a puppy again – climbing up on the couch, getting in and out of the car on his own, and, when he’s in the car, climbing into the backseat, and back up to the front seat. He’s romping around the house with his younger Basset and Dachshund, with toys in his mouth, etc., etc.

    I’m going to keep an eye on Murphy and, if he looks like he’s hurting again, I’ll start his treatments again.

  8. My 5 year old black lab jumped out of our truck and ended up with a partial ligament tear. Over a few months he was no longer allowed to jump up or down on furniture or play with my other dog and no long walks. The tear did not seem to get any better and I was going to proceed with surgery but then decided I would go ahead and try the cold laser therapy. He got 2 sessions a week for 3 weeks and each time he got progressively better. It’s been about 2 months and he is back to normal. Unless I had witnessed this it is hard to believe how great it worked on him. I am grateful to have given this a shot before opting for the surgery.

  9. I go to see day-to-day a few web pages and websites to read posts, except this blog
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  10. Have a Pug with collapsed trachea. I have read somewhere that cold laser therapy helps with condition but now I can’t find any information on it. Has anyone else dealt with this condition and tried laser therapy?

    Thanks in advance

  11. Our Lab/Great Pyrenees dog had chronic ear infections in one ear. After many rounds of antibiotics and other medications the laser treatment was done on 2 visits. He has only had one ear infection since the laser therapy and it has been probably 2 years now!!

  12. Question… My dog had one treatment and had spasms that night.. maybe bringing the nerves back to life could you explain to me… Also I have had implants and sometimes they say not to be by this stuff if you have implants what do you know about that

  13. I am a HUGE advocate for cold laser treatment/therapy for dogs. My baby Niko (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel) had done something to hurt himself while he was still relatively young, about 6-7 years old and my vet recommended to try it to promote healing and decrease any inflammation. When I took him to the vet initially, it was after about 2 days of him having such trouble walking that I was concerned his legs were partially paralyzed as he seemed to not be able to get them working under him. Every time he tried to walk, they would just fold under him. It would take him several minutes to be able to actually get his footing to even walk. After only ONE cold laser session, his walking improved more than 50% and after one more session, he had no problems whatsoever.

    Later, as he got older and started to develop some arthritis, every so often it would act up on him and he seemed to be walking slower and moving less, so I would bring him in for a cold laser session and within about 24 hours, he was back to running around like his happy healthy self again. So I began getting him regular cold laser therapy sessions about every 2-3 months as a preventative measure to keep his arthritis in check.

    Cold laser therapy is a godsent and I highly recommend it to anyone whose furbaby is having any type of walking/mobility issues.

    1. That is so awesome. I am happy it worked. My vet is about an hour from me so she recommended a home laser called MedCoVet. I rented with the option to buy. It’s been a game changer with my dog’s arthritis. Thanks for sharing your Niko’s journey with the cold laser. Wishing him all the best.

  14. We just started cold laser therapy on our 13 year old pitbull mix who has ACL disease where they are just deteriorating through time, not due to activity but she did just recently do something that aggravated it to the point where she struggles to get up and her quality of life has deteriorated greatly and she’s in pain, which we are managing with pain meds and anti-inflammatories. I found a vet nearby who offers cold laser therapy and was so grateful to hear it isn’t nearly as expensive as it sounds. She had one treatment several days ago but we haven’t noticed much improvement. We have a second session scheduled for today and a third scheduled in 3 days. I’m praying for the kind of success I’ve read about in these comments as our other option is to let her go she’s no longer in pain (surgery isn’t an option for a long list of reasons).

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