Reduce Pain With Laser Therapy

Timpanogos Animal Hospital is pleased to offer a new method of treating pain, inflammation, and other acute and chronic conditions affecting pets. Low level laser therapy penetrates deep into the tissues to reduce inflammation, decrease pain and increase the rate of healing. Its most significant effect is activating the mitochondria—the powerhouse of the cell—to stimulate cellular activity and increase healing. The laser increases blood flow, bringing more nutrients to affected tissue and enhancing the delivery of medication to the area.

Laser light also affects nerve fibers, reducing pain. Watch this video for a brief overview of how laser treatments affect the body.

Laser therapy is also completely noninvasive. It involves guiding laser light at a specific wavelength and intensity into and around the target tissue, and this is done without anesthesia or any incisions. While it’s often referred to as “cold laser therapy,” the laser is only cold when compared to surgical lasers. As the laser penetrates tissue, pets feel a gentle warmth. Watch this video to see therapeutic laser treatment in action.

While laser light is not a miracle cure, it can help many conditions. In fact, there are very few conditions that do not benefit in some way from laser therapy, either by itself or in conjunction with medication, surgery or other types of treatment. For answers to commonly asked questions about therapeutic laser treatment, click here.

Laser therapy often dramatically improves healing and patient comfort for the following conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Drug-resistant infections
  • Ear hematomas
  • Hot spots
  • Intervertebral disk disease
  • Lick granulomas
  • Muscle strains and sprain
  • Neck pain
  • Neurologic conditions
  • Non-healing wounds
  • Soft tissue trauma
  • Tendinitis

Want to learn more about how laser therapy can help your specific pet? Give Timpanogos Animal Hospital a call at (801) 769-0833.

Meet Our Team: Dr. Darrel Berry

Dr. Darrel Berry was born and raised in the small town of La Grande, Oregon. Although he started at Brigham Young University intent on studying music, he soon changed his focus to veterinary medicine and subsequently transferred to Oregon State University. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in general science and was accepted to Oregon State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Four years later, he received his doctorate in veterinary medicine, graduating in the top­­­ 5% of his class.

He spent his first few years out of veterinary school working in the Bay Area in California. Looking for a change of pace, he moved to Utah County and began working at Timpanogos Animal Hospital. He eventually bought the practice and moved it to its current location, a beautiful and well-equipped facility on Main Street in Pleasant Grove.

Dr. Berry has always focused on providing the very highest level of care to his patients. He has developed special skills in diagnostics, becoming proficient in ultrasound and rigid endoscopy. He is also able to provide advanced dental care, including root canal therapy, periodontal therapy and oral surgery. Perhaps his favorite aspect of veterinary medicine, however, is surgery. Through the years, he has developed and honed his knowledge of and techniques in advanced surgical procedures such as complicated fracture repairs, the innovative TPLO procedure and other advanced orthopedics.

Through all of this, Dr. Berry has not lost sight of why he provides this level of service—to make and keep pets healthy and happy and thus strengthen the bond we humans have with our pets. Never one to underestimate the power of positive interaction, Dr. Berry encourages all staff at Timpanogos Animal Hospital to show love to our patients—to pet them, talk to them, give them a blanket fresh out of the dryer when they are cold. A framed copy of the Pet Patient Bill of Rights hangs on the wall in our treatment area. It says every patient has:

  • The right to a clean, warm enclosure
  • The right to have pain controlled
  • The right to be treated with compassion
  • The right to eliminate when needed
  • The right to a correct diagnosis

Anyone who knows Dr. Berry can see his level of commitment to excellence in veterinary medicine, not just in knowledge and skill, but also in kindness and compassion.

Dental Disease in Pets

Dental disease is one of the most common health problem that affects our pets. Nearly all dogs and cats will suffer from dental disease at some point in their lives, and many develop it at a young age.

What happens to our pets at home—the food and treats we give them, the toys they chew and play with, and the home dental care we provide—has an impact on their oral health. Dental disease is also genetic. I often see pets living in the same home, eating the same food and treats, who have significant differences in their oral health.

Dental disease contributes to heart, kidney, and other health problems at its later stages, but at all stages, it is often a source of chronic pain and infection.

When I was a kid, I broke both of my front teeth getting out of a swimming pool. I had to wait a day or two to get into the dentist, and it hurt to eat. The tooth fractures I had were pretty minor, just chips really. I see dogs and cats all the time with much more significant problems that cause much more pain, like fractures that expose the pulp of the tooth, severe periodontal disease, and areas of tooth resorption. Most of the time, we as owners don’t know how much our pets’ mouths hurt. When a dog’s leg hurts, he limps. When a cat has a wound, she licks it. But dogs and cats don’t have an easy way to show us their mouths hurt. They generally go on eating as before, and the signs of mouth pain are varied and not readily noticeable.

In veterinary dentistry, our goals are to prevent the dental issues that lead to chronic pain and infection and to treat pain and infection when it exists. Pets that have significant dental disease are usually noticeably happier after a dental.

Just like it does for people, prevention of dental disease in dogs and cats involves both home care and professional care. At home, tooth brushing is the most effective form of preventive care. Because brushing is painful for pets that have established dental disease, brushing should only be started on puppies and kittens or on adult pets either after a professional dental treatment or after being examined by a veterinarian. Brushing is very effective at removing plaque, the soft white film that accumulates daily on teeth. When plaque is not removed from the teeth, it becomes mineralized over time. This mineralized plaque is called dental calculus or dental tartar and is yellow or brown in color and very hard. Brushing is not very effective at removing dental calculus; it needs to be removed during a professional dental cleaning using a scaling instrument.

Tooth brushing needs to be introduced gradually so it becomes a rewarding bonding experience, not a wrestling match. With patience and consistency, most pets will allow you to brush their teeth. While tooth brushing is the most effective home care prevention, there are many other products available that can help with at-home preventive care. Talk to your veterinarian for dental prevention tips. For information on dental products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council, visit their website. There’s even a specific diet, Hill’s t/d, that has been shown to help prevent dental disease.

A professional veterinary dental procedure involves a full oral exam by a veterinarian and a full dental cleaning (scaling and polishing) of all teeth surfaces and should also include dental X-rays. The most important aspect of the cleaning is the removal of plaque and tartar below the gum line and in pockets of infection around the teeth. A thorough exam and cleaning can’t be done on even the most cooperative pets without anesthesia; professional dental cleanings and most other veterinary dental procedures are done under general anesthesia. While anesthesia is never 100% risk free for any patient, properly administered anesthesia with proper monitoring in healthy pets, even healthy older pets, carries very low risk. The benefit of improved quality of life far outweighs the low risk of anesthetic complications.

I look into dogs’ and cats’ mouths during physical exams every day. While many dental problems can be identified during a physical exam, many dental problems aren’t visible until pets are anesthetized and have X-rays taken and are thoroughly examined with a dental probe.


When plaque is not removed frequently from the teeth, it becomes mineralized and forms dental calculus (tartar). The brown or tan material on the surface of the teeth is dental calculus. As dental calculus builds up on a pet’s teeth, it provides an ideal surface for plaque, which is then mineralized to become even more dental calculus. As this process continues, the bacteria that’s always present in plaque and calculus gains access to the tooth under the gum line and causes inflammation and infection of the tissues that surround the tooth root and hold it in place in the bony socket. These tissues that surround the tooth are called periodontal tissues; disease of these tissues is called periodontal disease. When periodontal disease is just beginning, some of the changes can be reversed by scaling the affected areas and providing good preventive care. As the disease progresses, more and more of the tissues that surround the tooth are destroyed, including the bony socket. This results in pockets of infection around the teeth, gum recession, and/or tooth mobility. These changes can sometimes be reversed or stopped with periodontal surgery, but often times, the disease is severe enough and the affected tooth needs to be extracted.

Since periodontal disease results in pain and infection, pets feel much better and eat much better when it is treated, even after they have many teeth extracted.

Dogs and cats frequently break their teeth. This can happen as a result of trauma or from normal chewing behavior. Broken teeth are usually sensitive, and if the break is bad enough to expose the center of the tooth, the pulp, it causes severe pain. Broken teeth should be examined and X-rayed.

To help prevent broken teeth, don’t give your dog real bones, antlers, hard nylon chew toys, or other similar hard objects to chew on.

Resorptive lesions are a very painful issue, and the cause is not well understood. They are unfortunately quite common in cats. Resorptive lesions occur when cells that reside in the tissue adjacent to the tooth resorb the mineralized portion of the tooth. This exposes the sensitive part of the tooth and is very painful to the cat. There is no known way to prevent or repair this problem. Affected teeth have to be extracted. Unfortunately, as many as 50% of cats will develop resorptive lesions.

I have treated enough cats with resorptive lesions to know that these cats feel much better and have significantly improved quality of life when the affected teeth are extracted, even if that results in a cat with few or no remaining teeth.

Just like their owners, pets may suffer from a variety of illnesses during their lifetime. We have little control over many of these illnesses. Dental disease is an ailment that affects nearly all dogs and cats during their lifetime. Fortunately, dental disease is something that we can both prevent and treat. With proper dental care, both at-home and professional veterinary dental care, pets can live happier, healthier lives.

Resolve to Get Your Pets in Shape

The New Year is a time for celebration, and a time to reflect on what we would like to do better in the coming year. Among the many factors that affect our pets’ health, there are some we really can’t control:

  • Our pets’ genes
  • Our pets’ age
  • We can try to limit accidents, but cannot predict or eliminate all risk

There are, however, a few things we have a lot of control over. One of those is our pets’ body condition.

Body condition is another way of talking about how fit our pets are, and is determined by evaluating fat accumulation and body silhouette. Health and quality of life are both heavily influenced by body condition.

In a landmark study conducted by Purina Nutrition, 48 Labrador Retrievers from 7 litters were separated into two groups. One group was fed ad libitum, and the other was fed 75% of what their counterparts ate. The study took 14 years to complete. The lean-fed group lived on average almost two years longer, and had a better quality of life. The heavier group of labs required treatment for chronic disease two years earlier than the lean-fed group.

Diabetes, arthritis, orthopedic injury, and many types of cancer are all heavily influenced by body condition. Pets live longer and are healthier if they are maintained at an ideal body condition. They don’t just live longer with fewer problems, but they live happier, more active lives.

For most pets, achieving ideal body condition involves restricted feeding. Special diets can make weight loss much easier. Talk to your veterinarian at your next visit about your pet’s body condition and how to achieve an ideal weight. Of all the things you can control that influence your pet’s health, body condition is one of the most important. It’s also the one you can influence the most.

A very large percentage of pets are not in ideal body condition. Because we are used to seeing overweight pets, many people think pets in ideal body condition look too thin.

Click on the body condition-scoring charts below to get an idea of how a pet in ideal condition should look.

If your pet is overweight, help him achieve his ideal body condition. He will feel better and have more energy.

Make a resolution to get your pet into his ideal body condition. This is one of the most important things you can do for your pet’s health and quality of life.

View Cat Body Conditions

View Dog Body Conditions

Give the Gift of Health to Your Pet This Holiday Season

One tradition commonly observed in the month of December is giving gifts to those we care about. I would like to suggest a valuable and prudent gift for your pets—start a health fund or take out a health insurance policy for your pet.

Just as with human medical care, advances in veterinary medical care allow for better diagnosis and treatment of disease. As a result, pets can now live longer and healthier lives than ever before. While some pets may live into old age without major medical incidents, most pets will have one at some point in their lives. Even in very healthy pets, laboratory screenings and preventive care play a huge role in maintaining health and good quality of life.

While it’s unlikely your pet will ever rack up a medical bill totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, costs can easily reach into the hundreds or even the thousands of dollars for major illnesses and surgical procedures. When started on young healthy pets, pet insurance plans that help offset veterinary visit charges can cost as little as $30 a month. Most pet insurance companies have a selection of plans that offer a variety of deductibles and types of coverage.

An account set aside to pay for veterinary care is another great way to plan for treatments and routine appointments for your pet. Even $30 to $40 set aside each month will go a long way to offset veterinary costs. An ideal way to set up a health account for your pet would be to open a separate savings account and make automatic transfers into it each month. One advantage to setting up an account is that the funds you don’t use to pay for veterinary care are not paid out as premiums, but remain in your account.

During this holiday season, consider getting health insurance for your pet or starting an account dedicated to paying for medical care. This is one of the best gifts you can give your pet.

If you’d like more information on pet preventative care and pet insurance, contact us today.

-Dr. Anderson