Tonawanda News

September 3, 2013

Laser therapy can help ease pets' pain

By Danielle Haynes
The Tonawanda News

TOWN OF TONAWANDA — At just 12 years old Basie, a black-and-white English springer spaniel, found himself unable to walk one day in May.

He had gone out for a romp in Michael Idhe’s Town of Tonawanda back yard and somewhere along the way he became completely immobilized.

“We’re not sure what happened,” Idhe said of Basie’s injury.

Idhe took the dog, named after jazz musician Count Basie to the vet.

Basie already had been dealing with painful arthritis in his hips, knees and back and was maxed out on medications he could take to ease the pain, Idhe said. He took Basie home that weekend.

“We had a serious talk about his future after that,” he said.

But Basie showed improvement over the weekend and when Idhe took him back to Brighton Eggert Animal Clinic, Dr. Jatain Sondhi, the medical director at the facility, suggested a new treatment called laser therapy.

Laser therapy is a non-invasive treatment that can be used on dogs and cats to treat arthritis, inflammation, swelling, surgical incisions and even skin conditions. 

The treatment is particularly ideal for pets, like Basie, who have run out of other options for treating pain.

The laser is not painful as long as the veterinary technician administering the treatment constantly moves the laser head as it passes over the animal’s body.

“If you leave the laser head in one location it can burn the skin,” Sondhi said, but all veterinary technicians at the hospital are certified to use the technology.

The way the laser works is that it increases blood supply to the area of the animal’s body where it is applied.

“You are reducing inflammation by increasing blood flow and increasing the anti-inflammatory chemicals,” Sondhi said.

Because it increases the diameter of the blood vessels, Sondhi said the treatment is not ideal for patients with tumors. The tumor cells can metastisize to other locations in the body.

Sondhi said the Brighton Eggert Animal Clinic has been offering the service for three months now and have so far seen positive results. The laser can be used to help speed the healing process after a surgical incision and can help treat lick granulomas or hot spots in which dogs can’t stop licking or chewing spots on their skin.

In Basie’s case, Sondhi said he’s been very pleased with the dog’s progress. 

“Within 48 hours he started responding,” Sondhi said.

He started Basie off on a few treatments per week and he’s now been dropped down to twice a month.

“He really seems to enjoy it,” Ihde said, adding that after treatment, Basie often likes to run up the front stairs to their house, which is normally off-limits for the ailing dog.

Laser therapy is available for both dogs and cats — it’s particularly ideal for cats suffering from pain because they don’t tolerate pain medication well, Sondhi said.

But it’s not particularly cheap, which is why Sondhi often recommends it as a last alternative. 

“It is an expensive technology,” Sondhi said. “We have tried to be quite conscious about that.”

A five-session package for an animal less than 40 pounds costs $200 and includes a sixth session for free. The same package for an animal that weighs more than 40 pounds, the cost is $300.

It’s offered as a $10 add-on for any pet already undergoing a surgical procedure at the hospital to help speed the healing.

For more information about laser therapy treatment for pets, visit

Contact Sunday Lifestyle editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116 or follow her on Twitter at @DanielleHaynes1.