Spinal Manipulation and Laser Therapy

Spinal manipulation and laser therapy are two alternative therapy options for our pets, and each can be used alone or as complements to other treatments.  We know from human experience that bones of the spine and joints that are not in proper alignment can cause pain and problems with the muscles and joints, the nervous system, organs, and body functions.  The same problems can happen to our pets.  Spinal manipulation can put the bones back into proper alignment to relieve pain and restore proper function.  Laser Therapy is widely used for people undergoing physical rehabilitation, and it works the same way for our pets. LED and laser lights penetrate into the tissue at varying depths, causing increased circulation to help reduce inflammation or swelling and to speed healing.

Dr. Don Powers, B.Ed., DVM works at the Lakewood Animal Hospital in Regina and is familiar with both therapies; the clinic has been offering spinal manipulation since 2005 and laser therapy since 2010. “Spinal manipulation is useful for neck and back injuries where nerves are affected causing pain and decreased mobility. Laser treatments can benefit any type of injury where there is bruising, swelling and/or pain.  The two can work synergistically to promote healing to almost any type of muscle, ligament, or bone injury.”

It’s important to point out that these therapies are not instant fixes.

“With spinal manipulation, injuries may be restored with one treatment but usually require more especially if it was a chronic injury; further treatments are also recommended to maintain proper function.  For injuries that we feel would benefit from laser treatments, we suggest a three-treatment protocol. We try to arrange laser treatments every second day to allow for observation and consistency of healing. Results will dictate if any further treatments are required or if we just set up a maintenance schedule.”

Some people are worried that their pets may not enjoy the treatment, but Dr. Powers explains that he uses soft manipulations that pets accept, likening the spinal manipulation to a therapeutic massage.  He assures his clients that laser treatments are painless and do not create any heat that may cause discomfort.  “Almost any injury, either acute or chronic, will benefit from these alternative treatments.”

 Case Study: Otis

“After his first treatment, he went for a long walk and pulled like he was late for an appointment for most of it!”

~ Krista, Otis’ two-leg, remarking about Otis after his first treatment.


Otis, like many elderly dogs, suffers from inflammation, mobility, and balance issues that come along with arthritis in his back and legs.  His humans, Krista and Terry, decided to try spinal manipulation and laser therapy as alternatives to additional medication.

Dr. Powers had this to say about Otis’ condition and treatment:

“Otis has arthritis in his back and legs.  The arthritis is progressing over time and is affecting his mobility. Due to the arthritis in his legs he walks and moves around in a way that is the most comfortable for him.  The consequence is that his body is placed into positions that it would not normally.  Over time this strains the spine and back muscles and eventual arthritis occurs. As a result, we are focusing on Otis’ back to try and relieve the inflammation and discomfort in order to improve his mobility.  Because we are not changing the course of the arthritis, unfortunately there is no cure for Otis.  We are trying to improve his mobility and maintain his quality of life.”

Krista and Terry believe the treatments have helped Otis, most noticeably after the first treatment.  “Otis seems happier, more energetic, and is able to tolerate exercise a little more. Terry took him to the dog park after his third treatment and Otis, as usual tried to walk the entire length of it. The next day he was a little stiff, but not nearly as bad as he has been in the past after strenuous exercise.” They are happy with the alternative therapies, and when they notice that Otis seems to be walking more stiffly or has less energy, they bring him back for another treatment.