Laser Therapy for IVDD Dogs: Best Protocols

In February 2018, I decided to choose at-home laser therapy for managing Isabella’s IVDD. Above all, I was looking for something that would treat her pain and inflammation without medications (especially NSAID’s non-steroidal anti-inflammatory’s). This article will enlighten you on the practical use of laser therapy for IVDD dogs. And the many other conditions it is treating with great success. How to treat your dogs IVDD without long term medication. Including the best protocols, we are using based on our real-life evidence-based results. And Isabella’s successful recovery because of Laser Therapy!

Details on Purchasing My Pet Laser can be found at the close of this article. This is the laser I use and is the laser I highly recommend. 

Get My Dog Better and out of Pain

I resolved based on my research, that laser therapy needed to be one of the things I was going to do to get my dog better and out of pain. I would like to share our story with you so you can evaluate treating your dogs IVDD with laser therapy vs. longer than needed medication use.

It is important to note I’m not anti-medication.  On the contrary. There are an absolute time and a place for them. But, I would be remiss if I were not to say, how very thankful I was for the medications when she was first diagnosed with IVDD.  They were truly life-saving and got us to the place where we are now. Which is a very happy place indeed!

beagle dog outdoor in nature

We Love Our Dogs and Will do Anything for Them

My Ah-Ha Moment! | Laser Therapy for IVDD Dogs

You can treat your dogs IVDD without Medication! Laser Therapy to the Rescue. Isabella has been receiving laser therapy for 16 months now. I’m over the moon to report, you can treat your dogs IVDD (intervertebral disk disease) without medication AND heal them!  In our case, we have been able to successfully treat conservatively, without the need for surgical intervention. And regain the quality of life she had before her IVDD diagnosis!

Laser Therapy No Known Side Effects

Treating your Dogs IVDD without Medication

“The application of light-based modalities has proven to be an excellent means of reducing pain, either as a complementary modality or as a standalone treatment. There are virtually no known side effects, no long-term safety concerns as can occur with medications, and it is simple to administer.  Photobiomodulation (PBM) can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions in dogs, cats, horses, and exotics.”

“Low level laser therapy and light *photobiomodulation (PBM) is a non-thermal process where photochemical and photophysical changes occur to the cell.”

*Photobiomodulation (PBM) also known as Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)

Laser Therapy for IVDD Dogs

Clinical Study at UF College of Veterinary Medicine

October 2011 | Clinicians at UF’s Small Animal Hospital began using laser therapy routinely after results from a year long study showed laser’s effectiveness in patients with intervertebral disk disease.

The study is the first ever to compare dogs with intervertebral disk disease treated postoperatively with laser to dogs not treated with lasers, Schubert said.  He called the results “revolutionary.”

“Dogs that receive low-level laser treatment after initial surgery are walking a full week earlier than patients that do not receive the treatment,” said Dr. Tom Schubert, a professor of small animal neurology at UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine.”

“The results were so profound that we’re doing this procedure now on all dogs that come to us with this condition

Prior to starting Laser Therapy

For the better part of one year, Isabella was on 3 medications, two for pain and one muscle relaxer, three times daily! As she made improvements, my goal was alway’s to get her off the long term meds. But, every time I attempted to wean her off the drugs, she was right back on them. She was not making progress! Every day I had to weigh would this be the day we had to get in the car for the long journey for surgery, as it’s not done in the province we live in.

Heartbreaking to See Your Dog in Pain

It is mortifying and heartbreaking to see your dog in pain! Also, not being able to get the pain in control, well, that is a whole other article. It took forever to get her medication cocktail right! Most noteworthy, it was surreal to see her little body literally bent out of shape with her back arched (hunched) like a cat and head (nose) held low to the ground.

It is possible to treat your dogs IVDD without medication. Only after starting at-home laser Therapy was I able to successfully get her off all medications. It took approximately 6-8 weeks of laser therapy to achieve this. Finally, it’s been 1 year now medication free!!! 395 day’s to be exact!  But who’s counting? As a result, Laser therapy has literally given me my dog back!

Isabella The Cherished Hound

Isabella The Cherished Hound

Establishing a Protocol

It’s important to note that when we initially started with laser therapy, I worked very closely with the vet to establish a protocol. After the initial few months, I then relied on:

  1. Information garnered directly from Multi Radiance Medical through telephone conversations and email.
  2. The “Treatment Protocol Manual” that comes with the purchase of the My Pet Laser.
  3. What worked well for us in our first few months.

Laser Therapy Protocol using My Pet Laser

Every 3-4 weeks I do maintenance treatments with her at home using My Pet Laser by Multi Radiance Medical. Because, I felt that with a chronic, degenerative disease like IVDD, going for a few finite treatments were not going to be what was needed long term, as effects of laser therapy are cumulative. I wanted something that was going to be meaningful for the rest of her life! So, I purchased My Pet Laser through a local vet in my community.

Due to, the local vet buying a veterinary line of lasers from Multi Radiance Medical, which includes 4 ‘My Pet Lasers’, that can be rented out for at-home use. I was able to arrange with the vet to buy My Pet Laser from them. Miracle!

3 settings on My Pet Laser:

  • # 1 Treats inflammation (stimulatory). Decreases inflammation, increases circulation and promotes healing.

  • # 2 Repair of bone, muscle, tendon & ligaments (stimulatory). Promotes healing, stimulates bone repair, reduces pain from arthritis, improves healing of muscle and tendons.

  • # 3 Reduces Swelling and Pain (inhibitory). Reduces edema, provides pain relief, deactivates trigger points.

My Pet Laser | by Multi Radiance Veterinary

The My Pet Laser is an FDA cleared super-pulsed laser therapy device, for safe, drug-free, non-invasive relief of pain and inflammation.

My Pet Laser by Multi Radiance Medical

My Pet Laser by Multi Radiance Medical

More on Settings

We use setting # 1 (inflammation) and # 2 (healing) as a maintenance treatment protocol. Isabella is no longer in pain so we do not use setting # 3 (pain) in this protocol. Setting # 1 (inflammation) and # 2 (healing) are both “stimulatory” settings and can be used at the same time on the same site, for example, the spine.

Also, if you do use the “inhibitory” setting # 3 (pain), then you should wait for a minimum of 4 hours (6-8 hours is recommended) before stimulating the same site. Even more, if you use “inhibitory” on the spine, you could use “stimulatory” at the same session, but it should be done on a different part of her body like her hip joint, for example.

Our Current At-Home Laser Therapy Protocol

  • Treatment Schedule: Treat for 5 weeks with a 3-week break in between using setting # 1 (inflammation) and # 2 (healing) (both stimulatory).
  • The Treatment Length: Does not (and should not) exceed 15 procedures per treatment schedule, for example, 1 Procedure = any and all sessions completed in 1 day; regardless if you do “one” 5 Minute Session or “four” 5 Min Sessions.
  • Frequency of Procedures: Done daily (for this first 2 days to knock out the inflammation). Then we do every other day for about the next week and then scale back to 2 days in between treatments. So the treatment length ends up being 5 weeks in total.
  • Session Time: a 10-minute procedure in AM and another 10-minute procedure in PM. Not to exceed 20 minutes per day.  Our sessions are repeated at about the same time each day (+/- hour).
  • Note: The treatment program should not exceed the recommendations in the ‘treatment protocol manual’. Target tissues may become saturated and no additional effects will be seen. So it is important to follow protocols.

Starting each Maintenance Treatment Protocol

Setting # 1 (inflammation) is done in AM AND PM, for a total of 10 minutes each. I do this every day for the first 2 days depending on how she is doing. Most important is to deal with inflammation first. You want to knock that out first.

Controlling inflammation is key to promoting and initiating tissue repair. Low doses with setting # 1 have been shown to reduce tissue inflammation within just a few short treatments!

So, when I feel the inflammation has been addressed. I then start every other day or even skip 2 days in between, using a combination of setting # 1 (inflammation) and # 2 (healing).

Contact Scanning Method

I use the contact-scanning method, with light pressure holding the laser wand perpendicular to her spine (moving about 1 cm/second, up and down either side of her spine, not directly on top of her spine). I start at the base of her neck and work all the way down to the tip of her tail.

Setting # 2 (healing) (added after 2 days of treating inflammation) I use “targeted” treatments on her trouble spots.  These are the spots on her spine that were identified by the vet through diagnostic testing and clinical examinations. I do 30 seconds on either side of her spine, for a total of 1 minute at each “spot/site”.  I do this on 5 problem spots on her spine for a total of 5 minutes.

Note: Setting # 1 (inflammation) is now reduced to 5 minutes in the AM and PM session. With the addtion of seting #2 (healing) for our 10 minute total treatment time.

To Recap Our At-Home Laser Therapy protocol looks like this:

  • First 2 day’s: focus on inflammation with # 1, 10 min. in AM & PM
  • The remainder of Treatment: AM-5 min. # 1  & 5 min. # 2 =10 min
  • The remainder of Treatment: PM-5 min. # 1 & 5 min. # 2 = 10 min

Setting # 1 (inflammation) should be included with setting #2 (healing)  when trying to improve healing.

Laser therapy using my pet laser

Laser therapy using My Pet Laser

Pain Setting # 3

Although we do not need to use this setting in our maintenance protocol.  Isabella did need the pain setting for the first 2-3 months of starting her laser therapy. Even though she was weaned off the meds in 6-8 weeks, after starting the at-home laser therapy, she was still in some pain that was now able to be managed with the laser therapy as a stand-alone treatment. We finally reached the point of treating her IVDD without medication!

Treatment using this setting should begin using the “unwind protocol”. Start at the base of the skull and proceed to the tip of the tail at about 1 cm/second.

“Laser therapy can be very effective for reducing both acute and chronic pain, with both short and long term results. Laser therapy has been shown to reduce pain, sometimes as early as one treatment.

Medications given orally or injected can be diminished

The need for medications given orally or injected can be diminished, following active laser therapy treatments. Moderate exercise is encouraged with laser therapy.  It maintains muscle mass and preserves joint flexibility. Excessive exercise, however, is counterproductive.”

My Pet Laser. Treatment Protocol Manual.

At-home Treatments with My Pet Laser

Treatments at home are much less stressful. Especially when your animal is in an acute episode and in pain.  In our case, Isabella’s back was so bad every trip in the car could have literally paralyzed her. Not to mention most kitties loath a trip to the vet. Therefore, at-home laser therapy for your kitty is just the ticket! Laser therapy is helping many animals, not just dogs.

Other Animals being helped with Laser Therapy:

  • Cats
  • Horses
  • Exotics

Laser Therapy Treating More than IVDD in Dogs

“Regardless of species, osteoarthritis (OA) is a common cause of pain. Much like soft tissue strains, PBM can be a central component of a multimodal approach to treating OA.

PBM can be particularly helpful in reducing pain and enabling arthritic animals to be more active. Increased activity can facilitate weight loss, which further reduces strain on joints and the clinical signs of OA.”

Other Conditions being treated with Laser Therapy

  1. Osteoarthritis
  2. Managing wounds and dermatologic abnormalities, including hotspots, lick granulomas, otitis externa, pyoderma (infection of the skin)
  3. Pododermatitis
  4. Healing Surgical Incisions
  5. Hip Dysplasia
  6. Anal Glands
  7. Gingivitis Periodontal Disease, stomatitis and tooth extractions
  8. Sinusitis
  9. Cystitis
  10. Bursitis and Tendonitis
  11. Acute Injury’s
  12. Rodent ulcers and feline acne
  13. Inflammatory bowel disease
  14. Tail fractures

In Conclusion

Laser therapy has helped with Isabella’s pain and inflammation. At a deeper level, I’m confident it has helped to heal her IVDD injury sites.  Also, I feel it has provided healing benefits with sites that may have become problems that had not yet developed.

Therefore, at-home laser therapy has been highly effective in our case for both:

  1. Acute Episodes: Treating acute IVDD episodes and as a
  2. Preventative Therapy: Preventing new IVDD episodes

Laser therapy for IVDD Dogs can be used as a:

  1. Complimentary modality (with other therapies) or a
  2. Standalone modality (as a single therapy method)

Contraindications

  1. Should not be used over the Thyroid Gland
  2. Should not be used directly over, diagnosed Cancer Tumors
  3. Don’t use in combination with NSAID’s or Steroids

“A few early trials have suggested that the combined use of laser therapy and NSAID’s may diminish the impact of PBM, however, the overall effect seen in the laboratory studies have not been significantly demonstrated in clinical outcomes. Further studies on the combined use may provide additional details.”

“Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), especially Cox-2 Inhibitors can reduce effectiveness of laser therapy.”

My Pet Laser. Treatment Protocol Manual

Laser Therapy is Okay to Use With

  • Pain killers
  • Joint Supplements

Dog Breeds Prone to IVDD

Disc disease is most common in short-legged and small breed dogs. But any breed can be afflicted with IVDD.

Not JUST the Dachshund breed is prone to IVDD:

  1. Dachshunds
  2. Bulldogs
  3. French Bulldogs
  4. Corgis
  5. Pugs
  6. Basset Hounds
  7. Pekingese
  8. Beagles
  9. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  10. Cocker Spaniels
  11. Poodles
  12. Lhasa Apsos
  13. Shih Tzus
  14. Chihuahuas

Signs of IVDD

At the first sign of any of these symptoms, crate your dog to protect the spinal cord and get to a vet, ideally knowledgable about disc disease (IVDD).

  • Trembling or shaking
  • Muscle spasms
  • Reluctance to move, jump or go up and downstairs
  • Arched or hunched back
  • Head held high or head lowered to the ground (nose to the ground)
  • Neck and or back pain
  • Cries when touched or moved
  • Cries when eating or drinking (neck)
  • Reluctance to eat due to pain or from chewing
  • Pain when moving, moved or when picked up
  • Limping, weakness
  • Stiffness (tense abdomen from referred pain)
  • Difficulty getting up from the floor/laying position
  • Restless at Night or at other times

Signs Damage to the Spinal Cord is Progressing

  • Severe escalating pain
  • Wobbly walking, lack of coordination
  • Crossed legs (ataxia, drunk walking)
  • Knuckling of paw or paws
  • Dragging of a leg or legs
  • Incontinence (bladder and bowel control are lost)
  • Paralysis in one or more legs
  • Deep pain sensation is lost

Why Choose At-Home Laser Therapy for My IVDD Dog?

Pain Relief, Reduces Inflammation, Promotes Healing

Laser Therapy provides fast pain relief, reduces inflammation and promotes healing. LLLT (low-level laser therapy) can be particularly helpful in reducing inflammation and pain, enabling IVDD and arthritic animals to be more active.

Laser therapy provides:

  1. Pain relief
  2. Reduces inflammation
  3. Promotes healing, stimulates cell regeneration
  4. Medications given orally or injected can be diminished or stopped

Finally, Laser Therapy can speed healing by decreasing pain and inflammation and promote blood flow to the affected areas.

4 Other Common Back Problems In Dogs which can benefit from Laser Therapy

  1. Osteoarthritis
  2. Subluxations
  3. Lumbosacral Syndrome
  4. Soft Tissue Trauma

Laser Therapy Treatment Costs

In clinic and rental costs will vary widely depending on where you live. However, this will give you a starting point for comparison.

In-Clinic Veterinary Laser Therapy

  • 1 session $60 USD
  • 3 sessions $130 USD
  • 6 sessions $265 USD

My Pet Laser Rental through your vet for At-Home Laser Therapy

  • $150 USD per week with an $890.00 USD refundable deposit (upon return of an intact laser)

Purchase My Pet Laser for At-Home Laser Therapy

To obtain the results Cherished Hound has achieved using our custom protocol as outlined in this article.

Request a quote for My Pet Laser. Two easy options. (Approximate price $2995 USD. Price is subject to change. A quote is required)

  1.  Request a quote online using a desktop computer at Request A Quote | My Pet Laser please use the special code CherishedHound2019.  This code is to be placed in the form field that asks for a “Company Name”. In the form field that asks for “Medical Profession” choose ‘other’ or ‘patient’ from the drop-down menu, unless one of the other available options apply to you. In the “business email” and “address” form fields you may use your personal email and personal address unless you have a business email/address OR
  2. You can contact Pam Manke at Multi Radiance Medical direct, either by telephone on her direct line at 1-800-373-0955 xx 109 or by email at pmanke@multiradiance.com.  Please reference special code CherishedHound2019.

What conservative treatments or have worked well for your Cherished Hound? Leave us a comment we love hearing from you.

Do you have a question for the IVDD pet community? Or a topic you would like to see covered. Click here to send us an email!!!

I love connecting with pet parents. You might even see the answer to your question in an upcoming blog article! Feel free to reach out, and be sure to stay tuned for more!

About the author: Wendy Haines is a dog health blogger and devoted dog mom with 12 years of experience creating optimal health for her dog. Wendy’s goal is to help fellow dog owners manage an IVDD diagnosis, prevent IVDD episodes, make healthy diet choices and lifestyle changes with the goal of creating optimal health for your dog!

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