Red Light Therapy for Pets

Our furry friends are members of our family too, and when they're in pain, we'll do whatever we can to help them feel better.

Pet owners will often turn to alternative therapies for their beloved animals when they're not responding well to traditional medications or procedures. Many veterinary practices will recommend natural holistic treatments alongside traditional vet care, but before deciding on any therapies, make sure you consult your vet.

Red light therapy shows a lot of potential as a natural and non-invasive at-home treatment for dogs and cats suffering from arthritis, hip dysplasia, tendonitis, spine diseases, and injuries.

We all want what's best for our pets. In this article, we'll talk about how red light therapy can support recovery and how you can use it at home to improve your pets' conditions.

What Is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy is a form of photobiomodulation that uses specific light wavelengths to enhance cellular function. Light therapy for dogs and cats works much the same way as it does on humans.

Light receptors in the cell's mitochondria detect certain wavelengths of light and convert it into ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy currency required to carry out cell functions.

The sun is our natural source of red light and near-infrared light wavelengths (660 nm and 850 nm), but specialized lasers and high-intensity LEDs (light-emitting diodes) can also emmit them without radiating any heat. Cells exposed to this low-level laser therapy are encouraged to produce more ATP, making them function more effectively.

Light therapy is used to increase the speed and strength of tissue repair, resolve inflammation, and relieve musculoskeletal pain with regular exposure.

What Are The Benefits Of Low-Level Light Therapy For Pets?

Red and near-infrared light therapy is a gentle yet effective treatment you can use to support your pet's health. Many at-at home laser therapy devices are easy to use and don't require special training to support a wide variety of pet ailments in the comfort and convenience of your home.

Numerous scientific studies demonstrate the efficacy of near-infrared wavelengths on soft tissue recovery in animals and humans — let's look at some of the advantages of using this type of laser treatment on your pets.

Promote Wound Healing

Wounds in areas that allow for considerable movement are difficult to heal and are problematic. A lesion due to an injury or surgical procedure can affect your pet's quality of life, decreasing mobility and affecting their mood.

The best thing you can do for your pet is ensuring that the wound is clean, stop them from licking the wound, and allow them to rest. Your vet may prescribe pain medication to ease their pain, but it doesn't do much to speed healing.

Research shows the biomodulation using near-infrared light supports the wound healing process by increasing collagen to attract fibroblasts to the wound site, encouraging new tissue growth [1].

Applying low-level laser therapy to areas prone to slow-healing or older pets who naturally have a slower healing process can significantly improve wound recovery speed to help your pet feel better faster.

Provides Joint Pain Relief

Hyperactive animals and elderly pets are vulnerable to joint pain and arthritis. This is where red light therapy can come in to support your cat, dog, or horses' joint pain.

The two types of joint pain experienced by dogs are developmental and degenerative. Developmental joint pain occurs when the joint doesn't develop correctly — hip dysplasia is especially common in larger dogs like Great Danes, German Shepards, and Saint Bernards.

Degenerative joint pain is the gradual breakdown in the joint as your pet ages. Either way, joint pain can be extremely painful and can reduce your pet's mobility and energy levels.

Where there's joint pain, there's almost always inflammation. Inflammation is a key component of the body's immune system response to infection and injury. While inflammation is designed to heal damaged tissue, it can cause serious tissue damage when it shows up in the joint where no problem exists (arthritis) or persists for too long.

Red light therapy can support joint pain in humans in the same way it can for your pet by inhibiting inflammatory markers' release, which effectively reduces inflammation. Additionally, red and near-infrared wavelengths stimulate the cells' natural ability to fight off oxidative stress, which positively affects the inflammatory response [2].

Support Muscle Regeneration

Muscular pain and stiffness can present in older animals or if they've been getting excessive exercise. Dogs exhibiting muscle soreness may limp, move slowly, or are reluctant to get up from their beds.

Red light therapy has shown many potential benefits to muscle regeneration. The muscle cells are high in mitochondria, which makes sense given that muscles require a constant supply of ATP to contract. When muscles are exposed to low-level laser treatments, they've been shown to recover faster and take longer to fatigue [3].

Exercising your dog on hard surfaces such as pavement can be hard on the muscles and joints, especially in older pets. Try walking your pet on grass and limit their activity if they're susceptible to muscle soreness and pain after exercising.

How To Use Light Therapy For Dogs And Cats

The benefits of red light therapy are noticed from consistent use. Feline or canine light therapy at your veterinary clinic can cost upwards of $100 per session, making it an extremely costly expense.

A home light therapy device that emits a high enough power density of red and near-infrared wavelengths can save you on exorbitant vet bills and allow you to provide light therapy treatment for your pet at home, where they feel most comfortable.

To use a red light therapy device with your pet, have your pet lay down in a comfortable position and place your device 6–12 inches away from the treatment area. Some light therapy devices in the form of LED pads may allow you to rest the device directly on your pet. Read the instructions on your device carefully before applying light therapy directly to your pet's body.

For your first few treatments, start light therapy at 1–2 minutes and build up to 10–15 minutes over 2–3 weeks. Daily use of red light therapy is optimal to get the best results.

The Best At-Home Light Therapy Devices For Pet

With the publications of research articles demonstrating the efficacy and safety of red light therapy for post-surgery recovery, reducing pain, and treating inflammation, a flood of red light therapy devices hit the market. However, not all of them will deliver the same level of benefits.

The power density of the light energy your LED emits plays a central role in its efficacy—too little, and you won't see any results. The most effective range is between 20 to 200 mW/cm² for red light wavelengths and 100 to 200 mW/cm² for near-infrared. This is important because you need these light wavelengths to penetrate through the skin to deliver benefits at a cellular level.

Your pet's thick fur may get in the way of the wavelength's power and efficacy, so shaving your pet's fur in the affected area can improve the penetration of light.

Koze Mini

The Koze Mini is a hand-held red light device that delivers a 1:1 ratio of red and near-infrared wavelengths in an LED panel with an optical radiance of >100 mW/cm2. This device is excellent for targeting areas on your pet's body that are difficult to reach while delivering the optimal levels of effective wavelengths to promote healing.

This device does not emit any heat, so it will not cause discomfort for your pet. To take advantage of all the benefits of light therapy, you want to use light therapy daily and at a maximum of 3 times per day.

We stand behind the science and the quality of our light therapy devices. The Koze line of at-home red light therapy devices are the only class 2 FDA medical devices with a 2-month guarantee.

FAQs: Red Light Therapy For Cats And Dogs

Is Red Light Therapy Good For Dogs?

Our dogs can benefit from the healing properties of red light therapy too. Studies show that it supports the body's natural recovery process to reduce inflammation, minimize musculoskeletal pain, and improve the rate of wound healing.

Is It Safe To Do Red Light Therapy Every Day?

Red light therapy is safe to use daily as it's non-invasive and well-tolerated. In fact, you'll see the best results in your pet's healing progress with daily use.

What Are the Side Effects Of Red Light Therapy?

Our pets can't tell us when something is wrong, so it's important that we monitor their mood and behavior with any treatment or medication administered to ensure there aren't any adverse effects.

While red light therapy is considered very safe, there have been instances of light devices burning or blistering the skin. This isn't normal. These reports are often due to faulty wiring or device malfunction. Red light and near-infrared don't emit heat. Always keep an eye on your pet as you administer red light therapy to prevent potential burns or blisters from poor quality devices.

The Takeaway: Light Therapy For Pets

Red light therapy with near-infrared light can support a variety of health benefits for your pet, including wound healing, reducing pain and inflammation, and relieving muscle soreness without severe side-effects. That being said, it's not a cure-all device. If your pet is in severe pain, you should visit your vet to get professional advice.

For more serious conditions, red light therapy can provide supportive treatment alongside traditional vet-prescribed medications.

Remember that not all red light therapy devices are adequately researched and built — so always look into the integrity of a brand and customer reviews before purchasing.

Here's what you should look for in a quality red light therapy device:

  • Red light and near-infrared light wavelengths capabilities
  • Emits an appropriate light density (20 to 200 mW/cm² for red light wavelengths and 100 to 200 mW/cm² for near-infrared)
  • Manufacturer's warranty
  • Positive customer reviews from third-party websites

If you're looking to learn more about the benefits of red light therapy, you can find more articles like this on our blog.