What is Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy employs admitting shockwaves to an area of the body. The high-intensity sound waves interact with the tissues in the dog’s body resulting in the stimulation of blood vessels, reducing chronic inflammation, stimulating the production of collagen, and dissolving calcium buildup. The act of applying shockwaves to a non-healing area is believed to encourage the healing process and promote pain relief to chronic conditions. The true effectiveness of stimulating healing is still being evaluated. 

Shockwave therapy is a sonic pulse that uses high energy acoustic waves paired with a high peak-pressure. The treatment cycle is short lived, only lasting for a few minutes and the energy produced by the sonic pulse must be focused in order to achieve the best quality of treatment. Shockwave therapy is a procedure performed by a licensed veterinarian that specializes in therapies or shockwave therapy specifically.

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Shockwave Therapy Procedure in Dogs

The veterinarian will first perform a routine diagnostic examination of the canine. Routine testing will include a physical exam, blood work, a urinalysis and possibly a fecal examination. Radiographs and/or an ultrasound of the injured area may also be taken prior to conducting the shockwave therapy procedure. The shockwave unit consists of a handheld wand that attaches to the energy source. The follow describes a simple shock wave procedure in a step-by-step format: 

  1. The dog will be lightly sedated to keep the canine calm and ensure the treatment is applied accurately.
  2. The area of the dog’s body that requires treatment will be shaved to provide a better field of contact. 
  3. A contact gel will then be placed on the dog’s freshly shaved skin, similar to the lubricant used during an ultrasound. 
  4. The handheld wand is applied to the dog’s affected area and the deliverance of shock waves begin. 

Efficacy of Shockwave Therapy in Dogs

The true efficacy of shockwave therapy for dogs is still being evaluated. Shockwave therapy is not a commonly used treatment for small companions pets, as it is more common in race horses and humans. 

Shockwave Therapy Recovery in Dogs

Shockwave therapy will only take a few minutes, but the preparation process and recovery time can lengthen the total process to an hour or more. The dog will be lightly sedated, therefore, the canine will be allowed to recover in a cage area until the anesthesia has fully worn off. The canine will be allowed to return home shortly after the anesthesia has worn off. 

Cost of Shockwave Therapy in Dogs

Shockwave therapy for dogs will generally cost about $600 per treatment site. General exams, radiographs, and anesthesia should also be considered in the total cost.

Dog Shockwave Therapy Considerations

The shockwave therapy procedure does require the patient to undergo a brief period of anesthesia, which is the primary concern for most dog owners. The act of admitting shockwaves does emit a small amount of pain, similar to that of hitting the funny bone. Treatments are often repeated, usually every two to three weeks. 

Shockwave Therapy Prevention in Dogs

The need for shockwave therapy in dogs can be prevented in the case of an injury. Keeping your dog safe at home by keeping the dog inside the home, in a fenced in yard, or on a leash when you are outside the home are easy dog safety measures to implement. Degenerative conditions and diseases cannot be prevented, but keeping your dog at a healthy body weight can prevent the need for this form of therapy. Obesity will cause strain of the joints and in a degenerative joint  condition, will further stress the affected areas.