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Specialized Medicine

Cold Laser Therapy

Cold laser therapy is medication-free therapy that is being used to treat a myriad of conditions in veterinary and human medicine. Theoretically, we believe that it works by activating photosensitive molecules in cell’s mitochondria to increase energy output. This increase in energy output allows the cell to perform whatever the cell does better. Although much of the research for many conditions is ongoing, it is well documented to aid in wound healing through increasing cell proliferation and in decreasing pain for musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis.

Here at Elk Rapids Animal Hospital we have a Class 2 laser. This laser is a lightwave in the red visible light spectrum and therefore is very safe. It does not generate heat (hence the term “cold”) and will not burn the patient. If the laser is shined directly into the eye, however, it can burn the retina. For this reason, we may need to cover your pet’s eyes if the laser therapy is done on the head.

Frequency protocols will be chosen based on your pet’s condition. Depending on how many frequencies are needed for the condition, the laser may be used on your pet for between 3 and 15 minutes. The treatment allows for focus on the injury while also stimulating the brain. This allows for not only healing, but also neurological reorganization and reorientation at the brain level.

Laser therapy can be used to compliment traditional treatments or as an alternative to medication for many conditions including:

  • Treating arthritis pain
  • Neurologic conditions
  • Orthopedic conditions
  • Incisions/Scars
  • Wounds
  • Acute tissue inflammation
  • Allergies & more!


Acupuncture has been defined as the insertion of needles into specific anatomical locations on the body to produce a healing response. Each point has a specific action when stimulated – it may help with pain management, inflammation, and sometimes metabolic issues. While acupuncture is not indicated for all cases, it can work well in combination with traditional medicine.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has a consensus statement about acupuncture and its efficacy which you can read here. The NIH believes there is “compelling evidence that acupuncture is useful in the management of osteoarthritis and musculoskeletal pain”. In traditional medical terms, acupuncture helps to heal the body by stimulating nerves, increasing blood circulation, relieving muscle spasms or releasing hormones such as endorphins (the body’s pain control chemicals) and cortisol (a natural steroid).
Conditions such as musculoskeletal problems (osteoarthritis, intervertebral disk disease or traumatic nerve injuries) commonly respond best to acupuncture in combination with rehabilitation. Other conditions such as respiratory, skin and gastrointestinal problems may also respond to acupuncture in combination with traditional or herbal remedies.

Acupuncture is usually not painful although the initial “poke” of the needle may be slightly uncomfortable. Most of the time as the needle advances through the muscle it is not painful although the patient may experience some slight discomfort. It is not uncommon for the patient to experience mild lethargy or sleepiness over the next 12-24 hours after the treatment commonly followed by an improvement of the animal’s condition with additional treatments.

Acupuncture should only be treated by a licensed veterinarian that is certified in veterinary acupuncture. The patient should have a proper veterinary medical diagnosis and an ongoing assessment should be maintained as acupuncture may mask pain or other clinical signs. Acupuncture is not recommended for patients with cancer because acupuncture increases blood flow and can exacerbate cancer growth.

Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation (VOM)

Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation is a healing technology that locates areas of the animal’s nervous system that has fallen out of communication and reestablishes neuronal communication and thus induces healing. The goal of an adjustment in an animal is that all the vertebral subluxations in that animal are reduced.

VOM can treat:

  • Acute and non-acute lameness
  • Progressive lameness
  • Hip Dysplasia-like sydnromes
  • IV Disc disease
  • Progressive myelopathies (“down in the rears” dogs)
  • Urinary and fecal incontinence
  • Unilateral lameness
  • Wobbler’s Disease
  • Diseases of the knee
  • Esophageal disease
  • Digestive disorders
  • Performance problems
  • Behavioral problems
  • Agility dysfunction
  • Endocrine disease

Dr. Rachel Starr and Dr. Katie Cochran are  VOM-trained practitioners.

Standard Process Supplements

Here at Elk Rapids Animal Hospital, we carry nutritional supplements from Standard Process. We chose Standard Process because they make high-quality, whole food nutritional supplements to support the body through healing, to support specific organ functions, or to add nutritive value to dog food. Having the right nutrients available is important to healing and many chronic health conditions can benefit from nutritional support. If your dog has chronic or intermittent diarrhea or vomiting, thyroid disease, adrenal disease, allergies, heart disease, kidney or liver disease, or autoimmune disease, he or she may be a good candidate for nutritional support. If you are interested in whole food vitamins or augmenting your pet’s treatment with nutritional support, schedule a nutritional consultation with Dr. Rachel Starr.


Nutritional Consultation

Information Coming Soon…

Muscle Testing

Information Coming Soon…

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