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Laser therapy available for dogs

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New treatment can help older dogs with arthritis walk easier and without pain

By April Wright, Reporter

 

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When June jumps out of the car, the 13-year-old black labrador pants and wags her tail as she eagerly runs for the door at the Galax Veterinary Clinic for her laser treatments.
Before the treatment, she was arthritic and it took all of her might to hobble across the parking lot.
The Galax Veterinary Clinic’s new K-Laser Therapy treats animals with chronic pain, acute injuries and other veterinary conditions.
Dr. Brianna Idleman, a veterinarian at Galax Veterinary Clinic, said the treatment works by penetrating the tissue to remove inflammation.
“To see her move that quickly, it’s just amazing,” said Marti Anderson, who brings June and her other dog, Lewis, to the clinic to treat arthritis. “After laser, her quality of life was restored, and she enjoys her favorite outside things like digging in the dirt and barking at wild turkeys and deer and she plays with her toys now.”
Anderson said she was worried June wouldn’t make it through the winter, as her arthritis kept her from playing outside.
June has suffered with torn ligament damage that never repaired itself after she was diagnosed with hepatitis. She also has arthritis in each of her legs.
For the past four years, June has received acupuncture treatments at the clinic to reduce pain.
Acupuncture helps to alleviate ailments, such as arthritis, by balancing energies in the body. While that saved her from hepatitis, Anderson said she can tell June was still in a lot of pain from arthritis.
“When they had a demonstration on laser treatments a year ago, it helped her for a whole week,” said Anderson. “Laser is wonderful because it’s not invasive. She had responded so well to it, and I saw that she had declined so much from arthritis, I decided we should do this.”
The Galax Veterinary Clinic began laser treatments a few weeks ago, and June is already up to her sixth treatment.
When vet technician Sandy Hash runs the laser over June’s joints, June lays down and relaxes. When the treatment is over, she trots through the parking lot.
“This is like her spa day,” said Anderson. “She loves it.”
Four-year-old Lewis, also a black labrador, was a young show dog that was ranked second labrador in the U.S. in 2009 in the United Kennel Club, earning four Best in Show awards and a Best in Specialty award.
Anderson said they retired Lewis as a show dog a couple of years ago when he was diagnosed with arthritis in one of his legs.
Lewis has just started laser treatment. In addition to alleviating the pain in swelling, Anderson said a big reason for deciding on laser treatment for Lewis was to prevent him having to undergo expensive and invasive surgery in his joints.
“So far, we’ve had a lot of good luck treating animals with arthritis, infected wounds and broken bones, because it speeds the healing process,” said Idleman. “We want to treat the pain as harmlessly as we can without the side effects that medications sometimes have.”
Between the Galax clinic and the Animal Medical Services clinic in Mt. Airy, N.C. —both a part of Blue Ridge Veterinary Services — there are 30 laser treatment clients.
The laser, when used on surgical incisions and wounds, reduces swelling and causes wounds to heal faster. Idleman said the clinics have treated several pets with inflamed gums, as well.
Treatments last about five minutes each.

Initial treatment is $150, which consists of a series of treatments. After that, treatments are $35 each. Post-operative treatments are $15 each. For more information about acupuncture or laser treatments, call 236-4212 for the Galax clinic or (336) 786-9444 for the Mount Airy clinic.