equine therapy
One of the first applications for cold lasers was equine therapy. Using lasers on horses was a great early introduction to the technology because the results are so clear and visible. Animals cannot get any placebo effect from cold laser therapy so when an animal changes it's stride or behavior immediately after a Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) session, you know it is working. This application has very different requirements than cold lasers for home use and low level therapy (LLLT) devices for office use.
One major difference is that there is no FDA clearance required for lasers used for equine therapy. This means the cost of cold lasers can be lower however it also means some products are sold on the market with no validation or quality standards behind the products. Cheaper systems often only put a fraction of the specified max power and many do not include any training or support making them both dangerous and ineffective. Some products like Nexus, Aspen, Avant, and Thor are FDA cleared for use on humans but are also sold for equine applications. The Nexus and Aspen systems, for example, allow you to enter a pass code that automatically switches between human and animal protocols so there is never any confusion. Thor and Apollo products have different protocol manuals as well.

Buyers must rely on the specifications and the reputation of the company, that are not FDA cleared, to build, test, and support their product to make sure they are delivering on their specifications. A non-FDA cleared device can save you money if you are willing to take the risk.

Selecting an Equine Cold Laser

The following outlines different factors to take into account when selecting the best cold laser for equine therapy.

Wavelength: One of the biggest decision to consider when buying an equine laser is which wavelengths are best. Since wavelength determines the depth of penetration, selecting the proper wavelength is critical. There is NOT one perfect wavelength for equine applications but studies show that 800 to 860nm is the best option for most therapies. For some applications (like superficial damage, abrasions, hoofs and cuts) Red (600 -640nm) is the better wavelength. 905nm also provides good efficient energy transfer to the cells and deep penetration. In general, 980nm became popular because the diodes are cheap because they are used in surgical lasers because most of the energy is converted into heat to cut and cauterize (just search on 980nm surgical laser to see why they are such bad therapy lasers). You can read more about different wavelengths and how they have different interactions with the tissue here.

Broad and Fine Area Therapy: Lasers with broad coverage heads allow for treating a large area directly and evenly. More advanced practitioners also use laser acupuncture to treat the meridians to treat the energy levels in the body, trigger points to treat the muscular system and the lymph system associated with the problem. In general, using a single non-divergent laser beam like you get in lower-end products is like trying to color in a full sheet of paper with a fine-tip ball point pen. The coverage is so random and uneven that it can not deliver consistent results. For most applications, you want a larger treatment area so a more powerful system or a system with multiple diodes is recommended.

Durability and Portability: Cold Lasers for Veterinary and Equine usage are often grouped together, however there is a big difference between these products. The biggest difference is that equine cold lasers need to be very rugged and sometimes portable. Electronics tend to take a much bigger beating in the barn than in a sterile veterinary office. Higher power class 4 laser system (10 watts and up) must be kept in a clean environment so they should not be stored in a barn. Small particles of dust can heat up from the laser energy and damage the laser. As long as the system is stored in a clean area, higher power system are fine.

Power: If you spend much time on ColdLasers.Org, you will see that we don't try to up-sell everyone on more power. With more power comes more risk. Even with a giant budget, it still may be best to get a lower power laser. That being said, things are a bit different in the equine market. Provided that you use the product properly, power is more important. Many horse injuries have large overall tissue damage that is both broad and deep. Having higher power means you can cover a large area faster and deeper. We never recommend more than less than 400mW or more than 15,000mW for equine applications.

Pulsing and Continuous Wave: In general, the consensus is that pulsing is better for most application and continuous wave is best for rebuilding nervous system damage (See Study Here). Pulsing the laser adds an additional mechanism for stimulating the cells and helps keep the body from adapting to the input. This means that horse with c hronic problems that require long-term therapy might start to see declining results with a CW (Continuous Wave) laser. Based on current technology, we recommend buying a laser that does both pulsing and continuous wave output if it is within your budget. At lower power levels, pulsing is even more important so the worst option is a low-power continuous-wave only systems. (Read More about pulsing and CW advantages)

Comparing Equine Lasers

The following table includes lasers that we sell on ColdLasers.Org as well as other popular lasers. We are not dissing or recommending these other products. We feel it is important for you to know all your options before you buy a product. We have done our best to accurately show their specifications but some companies like to keep their specs a secret for some unknown reason. There are many other products that primarily target other markets and can be used for equine therapy, we have not included those products in our table. Options are listed in order of increasing power. We left out a lot of desktop options that might not stand up to the environmental requirements of an equine laser.

Product

Class

Rugged

Equipment Type

Power Waveform and Wavelength

Dual Wave

Warranty

Price

Microlight ML830

3b

Yes

Flashlight style

90mW @ 830nm

CW

No

1 year

$3,000

Vetrolaser

3b

Yes

Flashlight style

300mW@808nm

No

1 year

$575

VL500 3b Yes Handheld cordless with display

500mW@810nm & 40MW@625nm

CW & Pulsed

Yes 1 year $1495

Laserex 3000 450a

3b

Yes

Handheld cordless - Color Displ ay

450mW@808nm

CW & Pulsed

No

2 years

$2,672

RG500i and RG1000i

3b

Yes

Desktop

500mW@810nm or 1000mW@810nm

CW & Pulsed

No

1 years

$1,995

LZ30p

(for non professionals only)

3b

Yes

Hand held Cordless

600mW@808nm

50mW @ 637nm

CW, Pulsed, Sweep

Yes

3 years

$4,250

LZ30x

3b

Yes

Hand held Cordless

1000mW@808nm

250mW @ 637nm

CW, Pulsed, Sweep

Yes

3 years

$4,950

LZ30z 3b Yes >Hand held Cordless 1400mW@808nm 1000mW @ 637nm

CW, Pulsed, Sweep

Yes

3 years

$5,650

Thor DDv- Vet Only (with probes)

3b

Padded

Cordless Console + Probes

1000mW@810nm

P2:69 LED@660nm

CW, Pulsed

Yes

1 year

$10,520

Apollo Handheld

4

Yes

Hand held Cordless

2,000mW@810nm CW

No

2 years

$4,000

Apollo Portable +4000

4

All Metal

Portable Console + Probes

4,000mW@810nm CW

No

2 years

$7,143

Pilot 4 Yes Portable Console + Probes 9,000mW@810nm CW No 2 Years

$6,995

Aspen Summit A10 4 Yes Controller + Fiber Optic Probes

10,000mW@ 980nm or 10,000mW@ 810nm

CW, Pulsed, Sweep

No 2 Years $11,995

Nexus 10

4

Yes

Controller + Fiber Optic Probes

10,000mW@ 980nm

CW, Pulsed, Sweep

No

2 Years

$14,995

LiteCure ā?¢

Pegasusā?¢

4

Yes

Controller + Fiber Optic Probes

10,000mW@ 980nm

CW, Pulsed, Sweep

No

2 years

$15,000

Using the Laser

One of the last critical areas to consider when buying a system is the level of training that comes with the laser. Many systems from other sellers do not include adequate training on how to use the laser horses. Every system that we sell includes the laser-therapy.us animal protocol library (You can see all the available protocols here). The laser-therapy system used the best practice of dynamically calculating the dosage based on key factors like the size of the horse and color of the horse. If you are using a printout of other statically created protocol, you need to get your calculator out or your your dosage can be horribly wrong. Size, color and therapy objective have a huge impact on calculating the optimum dosage for the best results. This is especially key for anyone who does not have experience using a laser on an animal. When you purchase any animal laser from ColdLasers.Org, we include the information that you need to properly treat animals using the current best practices.

Summary

For most cases, we recommend buying a 800nm to 860nm wavelength rugged laser with a power of more than 400mW and less than 15,000mW. A great system will also have energy output in the RED spectrum. For treatment of superficial injures and hoofs, we recommend a cold laser that also operates in the 600nm - 680nm wavelength. The Avant systems are highly recommended because they operate in both RED and IR plus they can do both pulsing and continuous wave. With the included light pipe, a skilled practitioner can also treat the horses meridians, acupoints and trigger points. That means, you have 4 different types of therapy you can use for treating a condition and that means even more amazing results. If you desire more power and have clean work area, look at the Aspen because they cost 20% - 30% less than similar specified class 4 systems. If you looking at lower-price systems, the RG500i and RG1000i are unbeatable. They are very rugged and have adjustable power and adjustable pulsing at the ideal wavelength of 810nm.

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