Laser Therapy

Class 4 Companion Laser Therapy

A general description of Vet Laser therapy is provided in the Alternative MEdicine section of this website. Laser Therapy There you’ll find the introduction, indications and a chart of eleven beneficial biological effects of laser therapy.  The following gives you an idea of the differences between laser classes and therapeutic doses.

We have a 12 watt portable Class IV Companion Laser by LiteCure LLC. that delivers laser light in the 650nm, 810nm and 980nm wavelength spectrum.  The higher wavelength is used for deeper tissue penetration.

Laser units are classed based on how dangerous they are,  particularly for eye exposure and their potential to cause harm to biological tissue.  Class 1 lasers are what are found in compact disc players and laser printers. A bar code scanner is an example of a class 2 laser. Class 3 lasers are sub-grouped into class 3a and class 3b. Laser pointers are class 3a with a wavelength of around 530nm to 670nm and power between 1 and 5mw.  Class 3b lasers are therapeutic lasers with power less than 500mw. Our class 4 laser is the highest of the 4 classes with a power output of 500mw to 16 watts (high powers above 12 watts can be set up with the right accessories for cutting purposes in surgery). Safety glasses must always be used when it is emitting laser light. Class 4 lasers have high power penetrating ability, so the therapy beam can not be left static in one spot or heat will build up unfavorably.  When the laser beam is kept moving (e.g. waved over the tissue) it is completely safe. We move our laser at a speed of 1-3” per second and cover the specific area to be treated (cm squared, cm² area) by using a grid pattern. In general, 50% is delivered in one direction and 50% in the other.  We know if we move the laser at this speed the unit delivers a nice comfortable slightly warm feeling, and if the patient feels too warm they react , just as we would, with withdrawal and head turns to the area being treated. If this occurs, we simply turn down the power and increase the time to deliver the same energy, or back away a bit from the skin. Once familiar with the steps involved in laser therapy patients enjoy it, relax and may even fall asleep.

You need much longer therapeutic times to deliver the same dose of energy (joules) to a problem area with a class 3b unit compared to a class 4 laser, since the total joules (dose) is equal to power (watts) multiplied by time (seconds) per therapeutic area (cm squared/cm²). (The therapeutic dose is Joules/cm² where joules (energy) = watts x seconds). If you use lower power you need to increase your time proportionally to get the same dose in joules/cm².  The recommended dose to be efficient and reliable depends on the region, the depth and the tissue.  The more therapeutic lasers are used in research and clinical practice, the more accurate the dose recommendations will be for a given condition.  Currently the dose advised for superficial tissues is 3-4 joules per cm² and for deep tissues 6- 10 joules/ cm².  However, since researchers say we can’t over stimulate cells, the upper limit of dose delivery is really only a cost (over time) and time management consideration. The real question becomes: which dose of energy is the minimum effective amount of joules to deliver for a given condition to give optimum therapeutic effect.

We tend to stay on the upper end of these ranges to even 6 joules/cm² for superficial tissues. We don’t know optimal dosage for every condition accurately yet, since this is a relatively new technology and there are a lot of variables to consider in each situation. This makes it almost impossible to do a scientific study to cover every condition. Dose advise will be modified as we see how well patients respond.

For example, for Acral lick granulomas practitioners have found they respond better to high doses in the range of 22-30 joules/ cm² (a very unique atypical situation).  A research paper using mice in a brain trauma study chose 36 joules/ cm² as a standard dose to therapeutically penetrate the skull to compare to a placebo laser, continuous wave and either a laser phased at 10 Hertz or 100 Hertz frequencies with a 50% duty cycle (the amount of time the beam is on (pulsing) over a given period).  There was significant improvement in mouse recovery using any laser frequency (pulse or continuous) at 36 joules/cm², but the 10Hz mice did the best*.  Currently the veterinary advisers at Companion Therapy Laser (LiteCure) believe that it is the total joules delivered that is critical and the frequency choice is not as practically important, but more research is needed to prove this. Certain conditions may prove to benefit greater if the laser beam is pulsed at different frequencies and duty cycles.

The therapeutic laser is indicated for any condition that has inflammation, pain or a wound/ injury to repair so long as the tissue is within access to the low level laser light and there are no counter indications (pregnancy safety,  eye safety, cancerous tissue, endocrine glands –thyroid, ovaries, testicles etc, over the cardiac region if heart disease is present- alters neural function, over areas treated with photosensitive medications, actively bleeding lesions and an area recently injected with corticosteroids).   The key benefits are pain reduction/ blocking, muscle relaxation and myofacial softening, increased blood and lymphatic circulation and cellular photostimulation leading to increased metabolic activity.  The key effects are pain relief, anti-inflammation, decreased scar formation/ remodeling and increased body tissue repair/ wound healing times. See 11 Key Biological Effects (link to chart).

Beneficial Biological Effects

For more information on vet laser therapy and class 4 units visit  and/or call Beechwood Animal Hospital to speak to one of our laser certified technicians and veterinarians.

*Mice study: