Dan Core, DVM, of Airline Animal Health and Surgery Center in Bossier City, La., was an early adopter of Class IV laser therapy.
Tell us about yourself, your background and how you became interested in laser therapy.
I graduated from the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine in 1981, started my own practice in 1985 and started another practice, my current one, in 2005.
Our clinic is state of the art. It is 12,000 square feet, full service and I have two associate veterinarians and a staff of 15.
I became interested in CO2 laser surgery and purchased my first unit in 2000. Shortly after I opened my current clinic, the first therapy lasers became available in 2006. It was very interesting to see the research being done in laser therapy. It was being done on cell and tissue cultures, so it made sense to me that to treat, let’s say, a big dog’s hip, that I’d need a higher powered therapy laser.
I bought my first therapy laser in March 2006. It quickly became an integral part of our practice.
Describe the training supplied for you and your staff.
The company provided the training, a four-hour presentation that covered why we use it, how we use it, safety—everything was covered. Two years ago, I upgraded to a newer unit, and again the company representative did a first class job, spending an afternoon with us, doing a lot of hands-on work with the laser.
The staff became very familiar and comfortable in using it. I wanted them to know the benefits, to be believers just as I was. Clients are going to ask the staff questions about laser therapy, so I wanted them to answer those questions. I invited all my staff to treat their own animals with it, and they could see the improvement.
How did you introduce this new service to your clients?
When you get your staff on board, they are able to tell the clients, “You know I used this on my own pet, too, and here’s the improvement we saw.” That way your staff becomes part of the team and they will tell clients and people they know about it.
The laser company gave us pamphlets and information for our website, and we included it in our Yellow Page ad. I talk about laser therapy with every case, and introduce it to the client that we are going to do CO2 laser surgery and then do laser therapy afterwards.
What are the top five conditions you treat with Class IV laser therapy?
I use it on every incision we make, except when I am dealing with cancer or thyroid. We’ll usually do just one laser treatment post-surgically, but if I know I’ve got a case where it will be traumatic, such as a hit by car or a hip, we will do one treatment pre-surgery also.
We do a lot of orthopedic surgery. We do cruciates, medial patellar luxations, intervertebral disc, and we have estimated just from what we see that our patients recover from orthopedic surgery eight to 14 days quicker since we have implemented therapy laser.
Other conditions we treat with therapy laser include every neuter and spay, degenerative joint disease, canine hip dysplasia, intervertebral disc, back pain, all of the musculoskeletal and neurologic cases. We use it on all types of wounds. This includes bite wounds, trauma, snake bites—because we live in the South we have a lot of snakes.
We also do a lot of ear work, since we are in the Red River Valley, which is a very infectious region. We have tons of fungus and mold, so we see lots of ear disease. We treat lots of allergic conditions on the skin, [and use therapy laser] for edema and congestion and contaminated wounds.
How has laser therapy affected your bottom line?
We include the charge on every surgery we do in which we are not worried about neoplasia. All of our orthopedic surgeries have a package of six laser therapy treatments.
If the client is unsure about the effectiveness, we’ll sometimes tell him we’ll do just one and have him tell us if he sees improvement in the pet. Nine times out of 10, they will come back and buy a package. And now that we have been using laser therapy for a few years, the word is out in the community.
It’s kind of an obligation on our part to offer laser therapy, because it does not hurt the body. It is helping the body get better by itself, without having to give it [pharmaceuticals].
Clients are going to be happier, patients are going to get better quicker, and the bottom line is, “Is it going to pay for itself?” Our therapy laser pays for itself every five and a half months.
What would you say to your colleagues about laser therapy?
We do still use non-steroidals and pain medications, but I would much rather be able to treat patients with the therapy laser than send them home with meds. With all the hubbub nowadays, with the cats reacting to non-steroidals and the dogs who already have sensitivity, I would rather provide laser therapy than use carprofen, to be honest with you. All drugs have side effects, so if it was me, I would prefer to use laser therapy over meds.
I used to think I was a voice crying out in the wilderness about laser therapy, but it is becoming much more accepted now. It is an integral part of our practice. I can remember back when we started using diagnostic ultrasound or digital radiography…it gets to be where you can’t imagine that you did not use it.
This Education Series story was underwritten by K-Laser USA of Franklin, Tenn.