How Cold Laser Saved Lucky’s Life

*Warning, this article contains some pretty graphic photos of a rattlesnake bite that our sweet Llewellin Setter suffered.

This is the story of how Lucky lived up to her name.  It was a beautiful September day in Central Texas when our family took Lucky out to the family ranch to run off some steam.  Lucky is a Llewellin Setter and is built to run; the ranch is her happy place where she can go full-steam-ahead.  Lucky’s humans were working in the orchard and not paying much attention to Lucky as she bounded around like she had hundreds of times before.  Soon, however, her dad, Jeff, noticed that she was limping.  The ranch is full of cacti, small stones, and briars.  Jeff first thought that Lucky had stepped on something and had a splinter or a small cut on her paw.  It quickly became clear that the problem was far worse.

Lucky was panting hard.  She was having trouble moving and couldn’t jump up into the truck.  (If you’re not familiar with Llewellin Setters, they can usually jump like nobody’s business.)  Soon, Lucky couldn’t even stand.  Jeff rushed Lucky to the after-hours vet.

Dog's leg swelling after a rattlesnake bite.

Lucky’s swollen wound during the first week.

When Jeff and Lucky arrived at the vet she was immediately given an IV for dehydration and the vet started to work on finding out what was wrong.  This turned out to be more challenging than was expected.  No one had seen what happened and Lucky hadn’t yelped or barked while running at the ranch.  No foreign object like a thorn or stone could be found.  The vet couldn’t see any bite marks.  Since Lucky was in such bad shape spent the night under the vet’s care with IV fluids and constant supervision.

The next morning Lucky showed no change.  If anything, she was worse.  Her entire body was extremely swollen, she refused food or water and couldn’t move on her own.  The decision was made to give her rattlesnake antivenom.  Both rattlesnakes and coral snakes have been seen at the ranch but only rattlesnake venom is commercially available for dogs.  After the antivenom, Lucky was sent home.  She was in bad shape but there was nothing else that could be done at the vet’s office.

When Lucky arrived home she was swollen to twice her normal size.  She wasn’t able to walk or get into the car on her own.  Her family was prepared for the worst.  But, somehow, Lucky hung on.  Within a couple of days, the swelling started to go down and it looked like things might be turning around.  Little did we know that this was just the start of a very long journey.  By the end of the week, Lucky’s fur and skin started falling off in huge chunks exposing her muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  It was time to take her back to the vet.


Lucky’s wound as the fur and flesh started to fall off.

This time the vet cleaned her wounds and taught Lucky’s family how to do wound care at home.  She was sent home again with instructions to give her a bath twice per day, cleaning out the raw flesh that was exposed and carefully cleaning under the skin and fur flaps that were hanging loose on her leg and chest.  An antibiotic ointment prescribed to prevent infection and Lucky’s family was instructed to use popsicle sticks to place the ointment carefully up under her skin.  Our sweet Lucky didn’t seem so lucky right then.  Her flesh was pallid and she stopped eating or drinking.

Lucky’s family did the best they could to care for her.  They fed her bone broth through a syringe and kept her bed warm with a heating pad but things were looking grim.  Her flesh had taken on a grey tinge.

Cold laser turned things around for Lucky.  

From grey flesh to pink.

Grey flesh to pink and healing.

It was at this point that we started using the Erchonia Cold Laser.  You see, Lucky’s aunt is a chiropractor who uses a visible light laser for patients every day in her practice and has seen the laser do amazing things for humans.  Lucky started out with laser every hour for the first three days and then, after her skin started to pinken again, graduated to treatments three times a day.  The laser made all the difference, Lucky’s mom puts it like this, “after we started using the laser it was all up from there.”

Cold lasers were first used in the 1960s but have become more and more popular as the technology has improved over time.  Now they’re very common in rehabilitation settings like chiropractic or physical therapy offices.  The cold laser works by using light waves to stimulate healing at the cellular level.  If you’re a science person, the laser causes a photochemical reaction that feeds the ATP powerhouse of the cell, basically giving the cell extra energy production to heal faster.   The treatment is painless; in fact, most patients don’t feel anything at all while the laser is working.

How does cold laser therapy actually work?

Lucky’s aunt, Dr. Christy Flick, has been using an Erchonia cold laser in her chiropractic clinics since 2005 with great success. Often, new patients will have lots of questions about how cold laser works and whether it’s effective or not.  Because the laser works at a cellular level with most patients feeling absolutely nothing during the treatment this is a legitimate question.  On the research side of things, there have been over 4,000 research articles published on the effectiveness of cold laser for a wide variety of conditions.  More and more promising research continues to be done as the technology continues to improve.  Clinically, our practitioners wouldn’t want to practice without it!  The laser gives our patients the extra edge to get over health concerns of all kinds much quicker and with less overall pain than they would otherwise.  Some patients notice results right away, after the first session, and some take longer (up to four weeks) before they notice the changes.  It is important to remember that even with immediate pain relief the body is not completely healed more work will need to continue before results will be permanent.

The body has tremendous healing power and, given the right circumstances, can overcome in some pretty amazing ways.  The cold laser helps to amp up that inborn healing power.  You can think of it as supercharging your cells so that they heal faster.  In Lucky’s case we could actually see the healing happening on the outside, but with most of our human patients the healing is happening on the inside.  It’s less visible but no less powerful.  Some of the most popular reasons our chiropractors at HealthWorks:  A Family Wellness Center in Plano, Texas, use the cold laser are for injuries, pain, and nerve irritation like sciatica, carpal tunnel, or spinal pain.  Treatment times can vary depending on the problem being addressed, but most protocols are between 1-5 minutes.

Lucky lives up to her name.

Lucky with her scar, watching birds in the yard.

Lucky, with her scar, watching birds in the yard.

Back to our sweet girl, Lucky.  After 5 1/2 months of slow but steady healing Lucky finally graduated from her laser treatments when the wound finally closed.  She’ll have a scar where the fur finally knit back together but she came through without a limp.  Her mom reports that she’s currently sitting at the back door patiently waiting to be let out into the yard to chase birds.  Would Lucky have made a recovery without the cold laser?  It’s hard to tell.  But we do know this:  the laser turned her wound around at a time when things looked dire.  Her family is extremely grateful to still have her bounding after birds and snuggled up with them on the couch.  Lucky, we’re so glad that you lived up to your name.

HealthWorks: A Family Wellness Center is a chiropractic office in Plano, Texas that offers cold laser for humans as part of their care.  If you’re suffering from pain of any kind, give us a call to find out if cold laser could help.  Unfortunately, we do not offer animal care but many veterinary offices do.  Check out the Erchonia website here for a veterinary referral.