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Laser Therapy May Help Snake-Bitten Dogs

Photonics.com
Jul 2011
FORT COLLINS, Colo., July 26, 2011 — A new study is testing the effectiveness of laser light therapy as a low-cost alternative to antivenom for dogs that have been bitten by a rattlesnake.

Dogs are commonly bit in the face, which may balloon from swelling. Rattlesnake venom causes a low blood platelet count, preventing blood from clotting, increasing the risk of hemorrhaging, and damaging the tissue around the wound. Damaged tissue can include the tongue, lips and nasal cavities; coupled with the swelling, these wounds can make it very difficult to breathe, drink and eat.


A dog with snakebites. (Colorado State University)

In some cases, snakebites can lead to heart dysfunction, nervous system disorders, acute kidney failure and death. Laser light therapy speeds the cellular repair process and metabolism while also speeding cell division, activating stem cells, adapting the immune response and stimulating the formation of new blood vessels.

The study, by Colorado State University veterinarians and partners at the Fort Collins Veterinary Emergency and Rehabilitation Hospital, is looking into the possibility that using laser therapy may decrease the length of time a dog stays in a veterinary clinic after a snakebite, as well as lower the impact of snake venom in the dog’s body.


Rattlesnake (Tigerhawkvok via Wikimedia Commons)

Forty dogs being treated for snakebites will be evaluated at the university’s veterinary teaching hospital or the local veterinary emergency hospital by Dr. Narda Robinson, a veterinarian at CSU and lead researcher on the project.

“If research shows that the therapy helps, it could be provided to animals as a low-cost, safe and effective treatment that could significantly reduce long-term damage and suffering,” said Robinson. “At this time, the only specific treatment for snake venom is antivenom. It’s expensive, and its effectiveness decreases as time passes between the bite and treatment.”

Dogs in the study will receive either the light therapy or a placebo every 12 to 24 hours after they are admitted for up to four treatments. Veterinarians will monitor and compare the dog’s level of pain, swelling, pain medicine requirements, ability to eat and interest in food, along with other tests such as platelet counts.

For more information, visit: www.colostate.edu


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