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Red Light Therapy For Dogs: Can It Transform Your Dog’s Life?

Last Reviewed on May 1, 2024

Unleash your dog’s potential! Improve their health with red light therapy – a safe, non-invasive treatment method. Includes joint relief, faster recovery from injuries, and more.

Ever thought about red light therapy for your dog? It’s not just a human health trend. Your furry friend can benefit from it too.

Red light therapy (RLT) can enhance their overall life quality, from aiding in injury recovery to relieving pain. Why should this matter to you as a pet owner? Simply put, it’s a non-invasive, pain-free path to better health for your dog!

Think it’s too good to be true? Well, as experts in wellness through light therapy, we know a thing or two about its effectiveness.

In this article, we’ll unpack the benefits of red light therapy for dogs. And yes, it’s all backed by research! We’ll even show you how it works and how you can use red light therapy on your canine companion.

Red Light Therapy Benefits For Dogs

Dealing with vet bills and the stress of not knowing how an injury might turn out can be a real headache. Enter red light therapy – a safe, all-natural method to help your dog bounce back from illnesses and injuries.

Dog receiving red light therapy for wellness

Provides Joint Relief

Seeing our dogs struggle with joint pain, especially from conditions like arthritis, is heart-wrenching. Thankfully, red light therapy treatment is a proven approach that can make a major difference.

In a 2018 study focusing on dogs with elbow osteoarthritis, red light therapy made a real impact, with 82% of dogs needing fewer NSAIDs. The results were clear: it significantly reduced pain and improved mobility [1].

Imagine your dog finding relief and moving more easily. That’s the potential of this therapy.

But, it’s not only temporary relief. Red light therapy works at a cellular level. It energizes cells, ramps up blood flow, and supports cell repair and growth. This means addressing the root causes of joint pain and arthritis, especially in certain breeds that are prone to such issues.

Veterinarian administering red light therapy on dog's leg

Promotes Healing

Healing our dogs faster and more naturally is something many pet owners – if not all – wish for. Red light therapy is a promising solution in this department, too. Red light kick-starts healing at a cellular level, especially in tissues that need a little extra help.

Studies show pretty impressive results. For example, a study where dogs underwent tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) showed faster post-surgery recovery thanks to red light therapy [2].

Another study revealed that using 830 nm of near-infrared light three times a week led to faster bone repair at the early stages of healing [3]. This is great news for dogs who need to undergo surgery, whether after an unfortunate accident or for dental implants.

And, for the tough cases, like chronic wounds that just don’t seem to get better, red light therapy has shown promising results too. Dogs with chronic wounds responded well to 830 nm red light treatment in a 2021 study, healing faster than expected [4].

A 2004 case study reported similar results, where red light therapy (630 nm) completely healed a chronic wound on an 8-year old Whippet dog in just 21 days [5].

What’s happening here is pretty straightforward yet fascinating. The light from RLT works deep down, where it matters, helping repair tissue and bones faster.

Dog with cast resting on couch

Regrows Hair

Losing hair isn’t fun for anyone, dogs included. Fortunately, red light therapy may help dogs regrow their fur.

A study published in Veterinary Dermatology found low-level laser therapy (470 nm, 685 nm, 830 nm) to be effective in treating dogs with canine non-inflammatory alopecia (CNA).

86% of the dogs experienced significant improvements, with a 93% increase in hair follicles (compared to a 9% increase in the control group) [6].

Treats Skin Conditions

Red light therapy seems to be stepping up as a potential (and somewhat controversial) game-changer for doggy dermatology. While more research is needed, initial studies are giving dog owners hope [7].

For one, red light therapy has been shown to have antimicrobial properties [8, 9, 10], potentially helping manage skin infections. Red light can also inhibit fibroblast proliferation, which may be helpful in managing skin diseases like canine psoriasis [11].

In a 2016 study, dogs with pododermatitis (inflammation of the skin of the paw) experienced significant improvements just four days after red light treatment. What’s more, the skin lesions did not return after treatment for the majority of the dogs [12].

However, red light therapy may not be enough on its own to treat severe skin issues. Researchers found low-level laser therapy to be ineffective for treating dogs with pedal pruritus (from canine atopic dermatitis) [13].

The research suggests that blue light therapy might actually be best for treating skin issues. 

For example, dogs with interdigital pyoderma (that’s a fancy term for a nasty foot infection) experienced better outcomes when treated with blue light therapy and antibiotics vs. antibiotics alone [14].

It’s like giving an extra boost to the usual treatment, helping your dog heal and feel better, faster.

And, it’s not just mild skin conditions. Even for deep pyoderma, which is a more severe skin condition, blue light therapy has been shown to make a difference. When combined with a photoconverter gel and antibiotics, 88% of the dogs experienced full recovery and in a faster time frame than the control group [15].

Dog receiving light therapy for skin issues

How Does Red Light Therapy Work For Dogs?

So, you’ve learned about the benefits of red light therapy for dogs, but how does it actually work?

Red light therapy uses specific wavelengths of red and near-infrared light to penetrate deep into the skin and muscles of your dog.

Inside every cell in your dog’s body (and yours too!), there are tiny “power plants” called mitochondria. These mitochondria are super important because they make energy for the cell.

When the red light reaches these mitochondria, it gives them a kind of energy boost. It’s like when you feel more awake and energetic after being in the sunlight. This light helps the mitochondria work better and make more energy.

For the nerds: The red light photons are absorbed by an enzyme called cytochrome c oxidase, which then kick-starts the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) [16]. Cytochrome c oxidase is present in virtually all mammals, which is why red light therapy works so well not just for us but for our furry friends too.

With more energy, cells can do their jobs better. This means they can repair damage, reduce swelling, and make new cells faster. It’s like giving a helping hand to the body’s natural healing process.

Because the cells are working better and have more energy, the whole body starts to feel better. Injuries might heal faster, and your dog might feel less pain in its muscles or joints.

This whole process is part of what experts call “photobiomodulation therapy” (PBMT), which you might also hear as low-level light therapy or low-level laser therapy (LLLT).

How To Use Red Light Therapy For Dogs

Applying red light therapy to your dog is pretty simple and can be done at home.

First things first – have a chat with your vet. It’s always smart to get their input before starting any new treatment. Once you’ve got the go-ahead, you can begin treating your dog with red light therapy.

1. Preparing Your Red Light Therapy Device

First, find a device that matches your dog’s condition and specific needs. Some devices come with a pre-programmed timer, making it super easy to get the dosage just right.

If you’re already on the red light therapy bandwagon, you can use your own device on your dog too! Whether it’s a handheld or panel, it will do the trick.

2. Preparing Your Dog

When you’re ready to start, just place the device over the spot that needs some TLC. It’s painless and most pups find it quite relaxing. Just make sure your dog is calm and isn’t freaked out by the glowing red device coming toward it.

Also, ensure your dog is clean and dry before the therapy. This helps the light to penetrate better and keeps the session hygienic.

3. Administering Red Light Therapy

Now, simply position the device near the skin and turn it on. Once it beeps or turns off, the session is done. You can repeat as needed to cover the entire area.

Aim for three to four sessions a week, about 10 minutes each. Adjust the exposure based on your pet’s size – smaller dogs might need less, larger ones a bit more.

If your dog’s furry, get the device a bit closer to their skin for better light penetration. For specific problem areas, consider shaving the spot to allow deeper light penetration.

Key Tip: When treating wounds, you’ll get the best results when you use red light therapy during the early stages of the healing process.

FAQs: Red Light Therapy For Dogs

Here are some frequently asked questions about red light and dogs.

Is Red Light Good For Dogs?

Yes, red light therapy is good for dogs. It’s a versatile healing tool that works for a variety of animals, including our canine companions. Whether your dog is recovering from surgery, dealing with a chronic condition, or nursing an injury, red light therapy may help provide pain relief and promote healing.

Is Red Light Therapy Safe For Dogs?

Yes! Red light therapy is safe for dogs. Numerous studies have shown it effectively reduces pain without any adverse effects.

Do Dogs Sleep Better With Red Light?

Yes, dogs do actually sleep better with red light. Red light wavelengths have been shown to stimulate melatonin production, which promotes deep and restorative sleep.

Dog receiving therapy under red light treatment

Final Thoughts

Red light therapy is a safe and effective treatment for our furry friends. From pain relief to wound healing to enhanced skin condition, it packs numerous benefits.

If you’re intrigued by the benefits of red light therapy for your furry companion, why not dive deeper into the world of wellness through light? Check out the other benefits of red light therapy to learn more!

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6091142/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27935005/
  3. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/islsm/13/1/13_1_73/_article
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8448658/
  5. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1053/jvet.1999.0292
  6. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/vde.12170
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9502196/
  8. https://www.eurekaselect.com/article/19183
  9. https://www.dl.begellhouse.com/journals/0ff459a57a4c08d0,5d84548f012e18bf,70ad294f57d6fc57.html
  10. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1039/b211266c
  11. https://journals.lww.com/dermatologicsurgery/abstract/2013/08000/inhibition_of_fibroblast_proliferation_in_vitro.4.aspx
  12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27651678/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24909192/
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31407840/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7811420/
  16. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781119220190.ch5
Anne, Founder of Therapeutic Beams

Anne Linde

Since using it to clear up her acne in college, Anne has been an avid user and fan of all things light therapy. She now primarily uses red light therapy for its anti-aging benefits. Anne's mission is to make the science behind red light therapy easy to understand and accessible, so anyone can use it to take control of their health and wellbeing.

John Ni, BSc.

John, a graduate of the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, serves as a respected scientific reviewer at TherapeuticBeams.com. His expertise extends across various domains, including chemistry, pharmaceuticals, and dermatology. He contributes to publications like Royal Society of Chemistry, Drug Topics, and Practical Dermatology.

John Ni, Content Editor & Scientific Review

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