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Laser Therapy is Good Medicine for Humans and Their Companion Animals… Any Animals

Story at-a-glance
  • Laser TreatmentUse of lasers in veterinary medicine is steadily increasing, with impressive results, yet there are still those who believe laser therapy is just a gimmick employed primarily by the holistic veterinary community.
  • Most of the usual criticisms of laser therapy are being discredited by clinical studies, systematic reviews and meta-analyses demonstrating its many applications in both human and veterinary medicine.
  • High-quality research on the use of laser therapy exists. Guidelines for use of lasers are in place. And the science behind how lasers work to relieve pain and produce beneficial changes at the cellular level is available.

By Dr. Becker

Laser is actually an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” Laser beams are different from other light sources in that they provide focused energy that produces small points of intense power.

The light from a laser can cauterize (burn), cut and destroy tissue in a very precise manner. Used at lower power, called low-level laser therapy, lasers have the ability to alter the function of cells without heat and without destroying those cells. This is known as biostimulation, and it can be used to treat a variety of conditions affecting the joints, nerves and soft tissue in animals.

In recent years, use of lasers in both human and veterinary medicine has increased in the treatment of conditions that were once managed only with drugs and surgery. In many situations, laser procedures are much less invasive than the traditional therapies they replace. They can also reduce or eliminate the need for drugs in certain cases.

So when it comes to laser therapy for animals, why is a perfectly legitimate healing modality still considered by some to be trickery perpetrated primarily by the holistic veterinary community on gullible pet owners and animal caretakers?

Misconception #1: There’s a lack of reliable research on the effectiveness of laser therapy

One reason for this mistaken belief is a history of negative published studies on laser therapy since its discovery over 50 years ago. This is primarily due to the incorrect use of laser equipment affecting study outcomes. Several parameters, including dosing and laser output testing, have significant bearing on the results achieved.

Fortunately, the World Association for Laser Therapy now provides standards for the design and execution of clinical studies, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses. A systematic review is an examination of all available high-quality research evidence relevant to a specific research question. Systematic reviews of high-quality randomized controlled trials are essential to the advancement of evidence-based medicine.

Meta-analysis is a statistical technique used to combine findings from independent studies, for example, combining data from two or more randomized controlled trials to evaluate the effectiveness of a particular healthcare technique. The purpose of meta-analyses is to provide an accurate estimate of the effect of a specific treatment.

Another criticism of laser research is that it is of poor quality and can’t be used to establish the effectiveness of laser therapy.

This may have been the case at one time, but no longer. A number of systematic reviews and meta-analyses have demonstrated the benefit of laser treatment for a variety of conditions. These include pain and stiffness caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis1, neck2 and shoulder3 pain, tennis elbow4, Achilles tendinitis5, and inflammation/ulceration of the lining of the digestive tract caused by chemotherapy.

Misconception #2: No guidelines exist on how to perform laser treatments

Along with the misperception that there’s a lack of credible research on the use of lasers, another criticism is that no guidelines are in place for treatment, making it a guessing game to determine the right laser dose.

The World Association of Laser Therapy has published a list of recommended treatment doses for a number of pain problems. And while the recommended treatments are for humans, they are derived from clinical trials and studies on animals with similar pathologies.

The recommendations for veterinary use of lasers are closely aligned with these guidelines.

In addition, laser therapy clinical trials are being conducted at some veterinary schools. Colorado State University is conducting a randomized, controlled clinical trial on laser treatment for snake bites in dogs.

At the University of Florida, researchers completed a study on laser therapy for dogs with intervertebral disk disease. Study results showed that after a spinal cord injury and surgery, dogs who received laser therapy walked sooner, had no medical complications, and were discharged earlier. In fact, the results were so dramatic they are now using lasers with every dog presenting with that condition.

Misconception #3: Laser treatment is nothing more than expensive heat therapy

Another argument against laser treatments is that they are nothing more than very expensive heat therapy. This is simply incorrect.

Not all lasers warm the tissue and perceptions of heat being applied depend on equipment settings. In any event, heat isn’t how lasers heal. They heal by creating a photochemical reaction in tissue known as photobiomodulation. Photobiomodulation describes the changes that occur after light enters mitochondria and triggers beneficial physiologic changes.

Laser therapy affects a variety of tissues in the body, including neurons. Studies in the use of lasers to promote nerve regeneration6 have shown exciting results in bringing a return of function after acute spinal cord injury in rats.

Misconception #4: There is no science to explain how laser therapy works

Finally, perhaps the weakest criticism of laser therapy is that many people, including vets who use it regularly in their practices, can’t explain the science behind it.

Many practitioners can’t explain the scientific rationale behind treatments used in traditional veterinary medicine, either — for example, corticosteroid therapy. Yet steroids, which can have significant long-term side effects, are prescribed every day by MD’s and DVM’s.

The science of laser therapy is available. It’s just difficult for some to grasp – especially when the drugs-and-surgery medical model is all that is taught in the majority of vet schools.

As more veterinary schools expand their curriculums to include laser therapy training, more DVM’s will come around. Lasers, properly applied and dosed, provide significant benefits and expand veterinarians’ options for treating patients effectively, often eliminating or reducing the need for surgery or drugs.

August 25, 2012 Posted by | Animal or Pet Related Stories, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Holistic Pet Health, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pets | , , , , | 4 Comments

An Alternative to Surgery to Sterilize Male Dogs

Story at-a-glance

sterilized-dog

  • An injectable chemical sterilization drug will be available for use in the U.S. by the end of this year. It is currently FDA-approved only for dogs from 3 to 10 months, but the manufacturer believes it will be approved as safe for all dogs 3 months and older by the time it is released.
  • The drug, brand name Zeuterin, contains zinc gluconate neutralized by arginine. It acts as a spermicide and causes irreversible fibrosis of the testicles, which eventually atrophy and shrink in size, but remain visible.
  • Upon its initial release, Zeuterin will be made available primarily to shelters and spay-neuter clinics. The drug can only be sold to licensed veterinarians who have been trained in the injection procedure by the manufacturer.
  • The drug is highly effective at sterilizing male dogs with a single injection in each testicle. There are some side effects which seem primarily related to the injection technique.
  • It’s important to understand no sterilization procedure is completely risk-free, short or long-term. Once Zeuterin is widely available to private veterinary practitioners, we encourage dog owners to discuss with their vet the pros and cons of the procedure vs. traditional spaying or neutering.

By Dr. Becker

An injectable sterilization product for male dogs containing zinc gluconate neutralized with arginine is scheduled for release in the U.S. by the end of this year under the brand name Zeuterin ("zinc neutering"). The product is already in use in Bolivia, Columbia, Mexico and Panama under another name.

The drug is effective for permanent sterilization of male dogs at least three months of age. Zeuterin has been approved by the FDA for use in dogs three to ten months of age and can be obtained only by licensed veterinarians who have received training from the drug’s manufacturer, Ark Sciences, in how to perform the injections. The manufacturer believes the drug will be approved for use in dogs of any age over three months before the U.S. release date.

The drug functions as a spermicide and causes irreversible fibrosis of the testicles, which eventually atrophy and shrink in size, but remain visible. Dogs receiving the injection are tattooed in the groin area as proof they are sterile.

Product Launch Aimed at Shelters and Spay-Neuter Clinics Across the U.S.

Many shelters and spay-neuter facilities don’t have the recovery space for animals after sterilization surgery. For those organizations, Zeuterin should save time, money and space.

The injections are done on an outpatient basis, no anesthesia is involved, and dogs can be released relatively quickly after the procedure. Shelters and spay-neuter programs can then transfer some of the resources formerly committed to neutering male dogs toward spaying females and other outreach programs.

Proponents of Zeuterin believe it is unlikely individual veterinary practitioners will immediately embrace the sterilization drug, simply because they are already equipped and trained to do surgical spays and neuters. In addition, at this time Ark Sciences is training only a limited number of private veterinarians to inject Zeuterin.

Pet owners who want to have their male puppy chemically sterilized can add their names to a waiting list, which will at some point trigger Ark Sciences to send an offer to their vet to get certified to inject Zeuterin. According to Ark Sciences, the waiting list will be worked on a first-come first-served basis when the product becomes available.

It’s impossible to predict when Zeuterin might be widely available as an option for private vet practices and individual pet owners. Whenever that time comes, I think it’s important to understand the potential risks and benefits of this method of sterilizing male dogs.

Technology Approved by FDA in 2003

The formulation of zinc gluconate neutralized by arginine was actually approved by the FDA in 20031. That same year the drug was produced by Pet Healthcare International and distributed in the U.S. by Addison Laboratories under the name Neutersol.

According to Ark Sciences, Addison Labs overestimated the demand for the drug and created too much inventory. Excess inventory expired in two years, Pet Healthcare International went unpaid, and production shut down. Addison Labs and Pet Healthcare ended their relationship in 2005.

Ark Sciences subsequently acquired all rights to the Neutersol technology and has been distributing the product in Mexico and three other countries under the name Esterilsol for the last four years. They have used the drug extensively in Mexico in dogs three months and older to further evaluate its effectiveness as a sterilization agent, as well as to refine and improve the injection technique.

How the Drug Works as a Sterilization Agent

According to the Alliance for Contraception in Cats and Dogs (ACC&D) in their April 2012 Product Profile and Position Paper2 on Zeuterin:

As with any medical intervention, safety and effectiveness depend upon proper administration. The exact mechanism of action is not known. The following is based on a description provided by Ark Sciences. The product should be administered as an intratesticular injection into the center of the testicle via the dorsal cranial portion of testicle, parallel to the longitudinal axis. After injection the compound diffuses in all directions from the center of the testis. In the concentration used, zinc gluconate acts as a spermicide and destroys spermatozoa in all stages of development and maturation. It results in permanent and irreversible fibrosis in the seminiferous tubules, rete testis and epididymis. This produces a reduction in the size and texture of the testicles and permanent sterilization. Testosterone production is reduced by 41-52%, and the endocrine feedback system remains intact. Zinc gluconate is absorbed and metabolized by the body within 72 hours after the injection.

Also, from the Ark Sciences FAQ web page3:

How is testosterone lowered by Zinc Gluconate neutralized with Arginine?

The dosage and concentration is designed to ensure Leydig Cells in the interstitial space of the testes survive the procedure. Stimulated by Luteinizing Hormone (LH) produced in the pituitary gland, the Leydig Cells continue to support testosterone-related metabolic activity and growth. In the absence of spermatogenesis, Sertoli cells stop communicating the need for testosterone to mature sperm cells. The pituitary gland detects this lowered demand and lowers the LH levels. Since LH levels determine how much testosterone is produced by the Leydig cells, overall testosterone levels are reduced by 41-52% for all dogs permanently.

Zeuterin Adverse Reactions

The 2003 FDA drug approval document includes a study of 270 male puppies injected with the chemical sterilant. The puppies were a combination of shelter animals and family pets.

The following reactions were noted:

Reactions Upon Injection
Local Reactions

Reaction
Dogs Affected
Reaction
Dogs Affected

Vocalization
6
Scrotal Pain
17

Kicking
1
Scrotal Irritation
3

Biting and Licking
2

General Reactions
Scrotal Swelling
2

Reaction
Dogs Affected
Scrotal Dermatitis
2

Leukocytosis
2
Scrotal Ulceration
1

Neutrophilia
17
Scrotal Infection
1

Vomiting
12
Dry Scrotal Skin
1

Anorexia
11
Scrotal Bruising
1

Lethargy
6
Preputial Swelling
1

Diarrhea
5
Scrotal Sore
1

Another zinc gluconate sterilization study was done in the Galápagos Islands and published in 2008. It was conducted in a cooperative effort by the University of Florida, the ASPCA, and Animal Balance of San Francisco, and titled "Comparison of intratesticular injection of zinc gluconate versus surgical castration to sterilize male dogs."4 The following observation was made by the researchers:

Although the complication rate was similar for surgical and zinc-gluconate castration, the zinc-gluconate reactions were more severe. Surgical wound complications were treated by superficial wound debridement and resuturing. In contrast, zinc-gluconate reactions required antimicrobial treatment, orchiectomy, and extensive surgical debridement and reconstruction, including scrotal ablation in 2 dogs. These reactions occurred following administration by both experienced and novice individuals. All dogs made a full recovery following treatment of zinc-gluconate reactions and incisional dehiscences.

The authors of this study determined that proper injection technique is critical because injection or leakage into surrounding tissues can result in severe tissue damage. And while scrotal swelling and tenderness are common in the first days after injection, a more serious reaction is the development of scrotal ulcers or draining tracts in the scrotal or preputial area. The self-trauma that follows can be severe.

The researchers also observed that lesions aren’t always restricted to the injection site, which could indicate the solution may spread beyond the target area.

Long-Term Side Effects

According to Ark Sciences, since 1999 when the initial clinical studies were performed, there have been no reports of long-term side effects.

I would just add here that whenever we manipulate nature sufficiently to stop procreation, there WILL be long-term side effects. This is true for spay/neuter, and any other method. We are just beginning to understand the lifelong implications of surgical removal of ovaries and testicles, yet spaying and neutering of cats and dogs has been a common practice for decades.

I’m certainly not against the sterilization of pets. I’m a proponent of assessing the risks and benefits of everything we do as guardians of the animals in our care.

You can read more about Zeuterin on the Ark Sciences FAQ page as well as the other documents linked in the references, below.

Once the product is widely available to private veterinary practitioners, if you’re considering it, I recommend talking with your vet about the pros and cons of the procedure for your own dog.

Related:

Pet Sterilization Laws Raise Health Concerns

Caring for Pets Before, During and After Anesthesia

New methods of pet ‘pampering’ include fake testicles and facials

August 17, 2012 Posted by | Adopt Just One More Pet, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Best Medicine in Canada… Gone to the Dogs~

Innovations (in medicine) like birth control pills, cholesterol medication, robotic limbs, and many other things, would not have happened without the possibility of big profit, said Grace Marie Turner of the Galen Institute.

“I want companies to come up with cures for Parkinson’s, cures for cancer, cures for Alzheimer’s. Unless there is a reward for them to do that, we’re not going to have those new medicines,” she said.

Some of the best, most innovative treatments and most rapidly-delivered care happens through this pursuit of profit. Even in Canada, you’ll find one area where they offer easy access to cutting edge technology.

CT scans and MRIs, hip and knee replacements: available 24 hours a day and without a wait.

“If I see a patient that’s torn a cruciate ligament in that patient’s knee, we can generally have the patient scheduled for within probably a week,” said Canadian Dr. Terri Schiller.

But you have to bark or meow to get that kind of treatment. Schiller is a veterinarian and her practice makes a profit treating cats and dogs.

Vet holding a young kitten

Want a CT scan in Canada? Private veterinary clinics said they can get a dog in the next day. For people, the waiting list is a month.

“Many clients will come here with their pets and as they’re leaving, it’s, ‘Next time, I get sick, I want to come here. I don’t want to go to the regular hospitals,'” said Schiller.

Source:  True Health Is True Wealth – Full Article:  Healthcare:  Does Canada Do It Better?

Posted:  Just One More Pet

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