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November 13th, 2003, 03:17 PM
Winnipeg vets offer up laser surgery for our furry friends
By TAMMY MARLOWE -- Sun Media

WINNIPEG -- Laser surgery is going to the dogs. And the cats, and the mice, and the birds ...

Veterinarians at Centennial Animal Hospital in Fort Richmond are the first in Winnipeg to offer laser surgery procedures to their four-legged friends.

Dr. Gordon Goodridge said he was first introduced to the carbon dioxide laser at a conference last year.

It impressed him so much, he came home and discussed the possibility of dropping as much as $70,000 to purchase one for his clients and their pets.

Centennial decided the cutting-edge technology was a worthwhile investment and introduced it at the clinic about six weeks ago. Goodridge said just about every one of the clients he's offered it to since has decided to give it a try on their pets.

"It's actually been wonderful," he said this week. "We wanted to provide the best level of veterinary care we can for our clients. We want to be leading edge with that."

Ultrasounds and MRIs are a couple of medical procedures traditionally used to heal humans which are performed on cats, dogs and the like on a regular basis.

The surgical laser tool -- available to vets for the last decade -- is identical to those used on humans for the last 30 years.

More than 60 animal hospitals across Canada employ laser techniques, applying the technology for everything from neutering to tumour removal to amputations.

'REMARKABLE'

"It's just another form of scalpel blades," said Goodridge.

While their functions are the same, two significant differences set the red laser beam apart from the small silver knife -- less bleeding and less pain.

For example, Goodridge said cats who have been de-clawed with conventional surgical techniques suffer for a few days, staying in the clinic unable to walk with bandages wrapped around their paws.

By using a laser, the kitty is recovering at home the same evening.

"It's remarkable in those applications," he said.