Inside AAHA: August 2020

AAHA President Guylaine Charette, DMV, writes about lasers and their clinical importance in today’s practice. AAHA recognizes the heroes that are keeping the lights on at HQ; new Beyond Medicine Workshop; a sample review of AAHA’s safety standards; and Dear AAHA responds to a question about X-ray gloves.

View from the Board

Is Laser Therapy Right for Your Practice?

THE USE OF LASER THERAPY IN VETERINARY MEDICINE continues to increase as more information becomes available on the indications and benefits for our furry patients. Used similarly to massage therapy, acupuncture, and other integrative therapies, laser treatments offer an excellent alternative to manage an assortment of acute or chronic conditions.

From the perspective of evidence-based medicine, information is still lacking on laser therapy’s use in veterinary medicine. Most of what we know comes from studies in people and laboratory models. Although veterinary clinical trial literature may be sparse, the physiological basis of photobiomodulation is well studied. Lasers use specific light wavelengths to alter cellular and tissue physiology, resulting in a reduction of inflammation, increased microcirculation, analgesia, and enhanced healing. Class III lasers, also known as cold lasers, were the first to be used in veterinary medicine. The higher-power Class IV lasers also have surgical applications.

Laser therapy is helpful for treating many conditions, such as tendon and ligament injuries, traumatic injuries, certain dermatological conditions, and osteoarthritis. It can be used on its own or as part of an integrative therapeutic approach. Laser therapy can also be particularly helpful in older pets or patients with comorbidities who may have limited ability to take medications. Individual results will vary based on the type and extent of patient illness, the method of application of the laser beam, and the affected site. Choosing the appropriate dosage, wavelength, and duration of treatment can significantly improve clinical outcomes for the pet.

Therapeutic lasers are safe to use. Studies of low-level lasers have found few adverse effects. Inappropriate use of higher-power lasers or excessive duration of treatment can result in thermal tissue damage. Safety protocols for staff and patients should be followed scrupulously. Guidelines on the use of lasers are available from government agencies and manufacturers and can also be found in the medical literature.

As we look ahead to the changes in veterinary medicine and the demographics of pet ownership, there is increased demand for an integrative and more holistic approach to pet healthcare. Laser therapy is a natural fit for a veterinary practice wishing to offer a multimodal approach to veterinary care. Before investing in therapeutic laser, there are key points to consider:

  • Who is going to administer laser therapy within the practice?
  • What clinical cases will be treated with laser therapy?
  • How will the service be marketed?
  • What will it cost the client?
  • What financial returns can be expected?

Laser therapy treats a multiplicity of medical conditions that adversely affect pets on a daily basis. While research continues to delineate optimal wavelengths, power density dose, and treatment lengths, clinical benefits with standard protocols have proved to significantly affect quality of life for our patients. By implementing new medical technologies, forward-thinking veterinary practices can leverage market trends, increase client compliance and retention, keep more profit in the practice, and provide a better patient experience.

Guylaine Charette
Guylaine Charette, DMV, is AAHA’s 2019–2020 president.
After receiving her Docteur en Médecine Vétérinaire
degree from the Université de Montréal in 1984, Charette
joined the 2016 AAHA-Accredited Practice of the Year,
Pembroke Animal Hospital, in Pembroke, Ontario,
Canada, where she still practices as an owner.

What You Didn’t Learn in Veterinary School

Launching your veterinary career is a lot more complicated than just earning your degree. What happens after graduation can set you up either to enjoy your new job or to struggle with common challenges, including workplace conflict, client communications, and paying off student loans.

AAHA’s Beyond Medicine Workshop is a one-day, RACE-approved workshop intended for those who’ve earned their DVM within the last few years and want to avoid these pitfalls and take their career to the next level.

Learn how to:

  • Navigate workplace conflict
  • Improve client communications
  • Recognize different communication styles
  • Pay off student debt and invest in retirement
  • Provide gold-standard care with limited resources

Get the details.

Safety Dance

August 10−16 is OSHA Safe + Sound Week. What better time to revisit AAHA’s safety standards? As always, AAHA members can view these and other standards.

Here is a sampling of the standards:

  • Documented radiographic safety training is provided to practice team members involved in radiology procedures upon hire and annually thereafter.
  • The practice complies with federal, state, local, and provincial regulations regarding veterinary practice, such as those concerning controlled substances and workplace safety (OSHA, DEA, WHMIS, etc.).
  • Adequate emergency lighting exists. Battery-operated lights or alternate power sources are maintained, tested, and inspected on a monthly basis.
  • Centrally monitored fire detection devices (offsite monitored smoke detectors, heat detectors, or sprinkler systems) are provided.

Contact to learn more about the AAHA Standards of Accreditation.

AAHA’s HQ Heroes

Our own essential onsite team has stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that calls are answered, AAHA Press materials go out, and the AAHA community is experiencing no service interruptions at AAHA headquarters. On top of their regular duties, these AAHA heroes have gone above and beyond!

At the Front Desk . . .

Thank you to Nancy Smith and Denise Mikita for being instrumental in meeting members’ needs by answering phone calls, completing accreditation certificates, and helping with anything needed at HQ.

In the Inventory Facility and Mailroom . . .

Thank you to Millie Richards and Nancie Garcia for ensuring AAHA Press and accreditation merchandise orders continue to ship, and for helping get monitors out to AAHA practice consultants so they’re able to work from home.

In the Finance Department . . .

Thank you to Maria Nieto and Maciej Popko for coming into AAHA HQ to ensure that checks, such as AAHA Advantage rebates, go out to members and vendors.


Nancy Smith


Denise Mikita


Millie Richards


Nancie Garcia


Maria Nieto


Maciej Popko


No Love for the Glove

Dear AAHA,

Our X-ray gloves make it difficult to restrain patients, which sometimes deters staff from using them. Do you have any recommendations for safe, easy-to-use X-ray gloves?

—Gloveless in Georgia

Dear Gloveless,

If hand-free X-rays aren’t possible, closed slit mitts are often overlooked. They work nicely because they allow team members to hold the patient’s paw and pull it into the mitt, while keeping the hands totally covered and protected. These mitts can be purchased through most distributors.

—AAHA’s Member Experience Team

Have a question you’d like AAHA to answer? Email us at

AAHA Meetings and Events

AAHA is closely monitoring developments related to COVID-19 and we will continue to follow recommended public health guidelines leading up to all scheduled AAHA events.

Veterinary Management Series:
Practice Essentials

Virtual | August 5–8

National Check the Chip Day

August 15

OSHA Safe + Sound Week

August 10–16

Connexity by AAHA

Virtual | September 30–October 3

Distance Education Veterinary
Technology Program (DEVTP) Fall
semester begins

August 10–16



Register for a learning program and learn more about AAHA’s upcoming events.

Photo credits: ©, ©AAHA/Alison McKearn



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