Alternative medicine

Can dogs benefit from alternative medicine?

Q: I recently met with a vet who I told about my 12 year old dog. She did a lot of holistic medicine and I shared that my old dog had issues associated with probable arthritis. He’s not as lively as before. She told me about something called cold laser therapy. I know there is some general skepticism about human homeopathic medicine, which I assume extends to veterinary medicine, but what caught my interest was his assertion that chiropractic and Cold laser treatments tend to show immediate visible improvements in dogs and cats that slow down as they age. What can you tell me about this type of therapy, and should I pursue it for my dog ​​now that I am home? I want to keep my dog ​​as comfortable as possible.

A: There are many forms of complementary and alternative therapies in veterinary medicine, just as there are in human medicine. They include acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic, massage, herbal medicine, homeopathy, and cold laser therapy, which is one of the newer forms. Some have proven to be very effective for pets. I don’t have personal experience with CLT, but I know a little about it. For some, laser means light amplification by stimulated emission radiation. The most common laser used in dogs is the CO2 laser, which is used for surgery. Benefits include reduced bleeding, pain and inflammation as well as improved tissue healing. It is used by some veterinarians for procedures such as tumor removal, some oral procedures, and even spaying and neutering. Even with the advent of this type of option, most veterinarians still use conventional surgical methods.

CLT is a different class of laser in that it uses a specific wavelength of light to cause changes in tissue by promoting increased blood supply by dilating vessels, thereby improving healing, reducing inflammation and leading to an overall improvement in chronic conditions like arthritis. A hand-held instrument is moved over sore joints or muscles, relaxing those muscles and having beneficial effects on deeper tissues and joints. Appropriate training is necessary to avoid overexposure, which can conversely lead to possible tissue damage.

As with all alternative therapies, it may be worth considering finding a local veterinarian who may be able to provide this type of therapy for your dog. Remember that there are also all sorts of medical options, including anti-inflammatory drugs, chondroprotective agents, and other miscellaneous joint and muscle medications that can be helpful. Work with your veterinarian to come up with the best course of action.


Dr. John de Jong owns and operates the Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic. He can be reached at 781-899-9994.