therapy

KAREN BOSSICK • FOR THE TIMES-NEWS

Jared Higley applies laser therapy to Hank’s rump at Sun Valley Animal Center. Hank, a yellow Lab, was outfitted with goggles before his treatment.

KETCHUM • Laser therapy to treat chronic arthritis and injuries. An underwater treadmill for post-surgical rehabilitation. ...

These tools are now going to the dogs.

The Sun Valley Animal Center near Ketchum just started using a Class IV Therapy Laser, considered new technology in the U.S., to reduce pain, inflation and scar tissue in dogs that have undergone surgery. And a new underwater treadmill is sitting in its box awaiting use to treat dogs with orthopedic problems, musculoskeletal disease, arthritis and obesity.

The new equipment is part of the veterinary clinic’s attempt to offer a full-service Physical Therapy Unit, in addition to the elbow surgeries, acupuncture and other services it already offers.

“We know dogs heal better with physical therapy, just like people,” said veterinarian Heidi Woog, who is getting her physical therapy certification along with clinic veterinarian Maggie Acker.

Among the first to be treated with canine laser therapy at the clinic was Hank, a 12-year-old yellow Lab that recently underwent surgery to clean out back discs that had caused sciatica. The sciatica kept him from getting around.

Veterinary technician Jared Higley outfitted Hank with goggles to prevent exposure to his eyes from the laser treatment. Then he rubbed a bulbous instrument that emitted a purplish laser light over the shaved patch on Hank’s rump.

Hank stood there lapping it up as if someone were rubbing his back.

“I haven’t had a dog complain yet!” Higley said.

After a 15-minute treatment Hank was moving around the clinic, nosing up to anyone he thought might give him a doggy biscuit.

“Seven laser treatments and he’s jumping in the car again. He hadn’t done that for eight months,” said veterinarian assistant Sue Acker.

Most chronic conditions show a positive response in three to four treatments, with dogs showing at least a 50 percent improvement in mobility and pain reduction, said laser consultant Craig Hartshorn. The treated site feels better either immediately or within 12 to 24 hours after treatment.

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The canine laser treatment uses photons from lasers to penetrate into the tissue, accelerate cellular reproduction and growth and increase the energy available to the cells so they can take on nutrients and get rid of waste products more quickly, Woog said.

Treatments, which cost between $30 and $50, reduce pain and inflammation. They accelerate tissue repair and growth, stimulating fibroblasts to produce collagen to replace or repair tissue injury. They also increase the formation of new capillaries in damaged tissue to speed the healing of a wound. In addition, they reduce the formation of scar tissue and improve nerve function in impaired limbs. And they stimulate the immune system, Woog said.

“Laser therapy doesn’t require anesthesia. And it can be used for things like arthritis that surgery can’t always address,” she said.

The treadmill, when it is up and running, will be used to help canines who have undergone back and other surgeries and can’t do weight-bearing exercise. The treadmill will help build the dogs’ muscle mass as they paddle against the resistance of the water.

“It takes the weight off joints that suffer from trauma or arthritis,” Woog said.

Sun Valley Animal Center: http://svanimal.com/

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