When Candice Leibold noticed her cocker spaniel Lexxi was going to one spot outside to go potty and then returning quickly to come back inside, instead of exploring, she knew something was wrong.
The 15-year-old spaniel's arthritis was getting worst. So bad, that eventually she could no longer rest comfortably, but in a "hunched position," Leibold said.
But after undergoing a new laser therapy at Country Chase Veterinary she started to see a difference.
"When I saw within 24 hours she was getting her quality of life back I knew that we were on the right track," said Leibold, a Carrollwood resident.
For about a month, Country Chase has been utilizing K-Laser Class IV Laser Therapy to treat chronic pain and acute injuries in its patients. It is one of the few vet offices in the area to offer the treatment. The high-energy laser therapy penetrates deeply into the body to diminish pain and stimulate healing.
Many pets suffer from chronic pain due to arthritis caused by hip dysplasia, spondylosis and traumatic injury. While pain medication has become popular for pets, the drugs can have some undesirable effects some harmful to internal organs. The laser presents no side effects, said Dr. Brian Whitten, a veternarian at Country Chase.
The laser was FDA approved in 2005 and is often used in sports medicine. In the last two years veterinarians have been able to implement the treatment in their practices.
The laser works by sending photo receptors to the cellular level and stimulating the cell to do certain things like increase oxygen and get rid of waste products.
"Those things that cause pain at the cellular level, it reduces it," Whitten said.
The laser can also be used for pain management associated with bites, fractures and ear infections.
Laser therapy is different for each patient. In Lexxi's case, each hip is treated with the laser for less than 5 minutes. On a recent day Whitten placed the spaniel on the exam table and gently massaged the laser on the impacted area.
"They tolerate it well," he said. "They think of it as a massage."
The recent vet visit was the second time Lexxi received the laser treatment. After the first time she began resting better and regained some of her "pep," Leibold said.
"She's my baby," Leibold said.
Country Chase is located at 12501 W. Linebaugh Avenue Tampa, Fl. 813-814-1814.