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Laser Therapy in Horses
Published: August 02, 2021

Low-level laser therapy may be helpful in some equine conditions, says Dr. Leah Walker from Arizona.  It is being used in treating many conditions in animals.  Dr. Walker indicates in the Remuda publication that laser therapy is noninvasive but owners having horses treated must have reasonable expectations of what it can do. 

Class 4 lasers are usually used in horses, and these are different from surgical lasers as they are classified as therapy lasers or regenerative lasers. Lasers can be used in acute or chronic conditions. Dr. Chris Morrow from Amarillo says he has noted increased healing of wounds by using the laser. He believes it sterilizes the tissue.  Also, incisions can be treated after surgery to aid in healing.  Dr. Sherry Johnson from Whitesboro says lasers have been used in human athletes to improve muscle strength and accelerate post-exercise recovery and this may also be effective in horses.  Veterinarians at Park Equine in Kentucky have seen promise in treating splint bone fractures in horses as the laser is also used to accelerate bone healing in humans. 

The concern with lasers is most of the time they are being used along with other treatments, so it is difficult to determine how much the laser is helping.  There is also very little information on the correct dosage and frequency of laser treatment to best treat specific conditions.  It has been shown that in horses the laser penetrates light-colored skin better than dark-colored skin, which has an effect on the correct dosage.  The success of laser therapy on healing depends on the injury and the ability of the horse to heal, and this includes underlying conditions and temperament.

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