Maybe unsurprisingly light therapy is widely used in the treatment of animals. Since the mid 1980s infrared and red light therapy has been used in the veterinary world for treating pets and domestic animals. Furry or feathered, large or small, light therapy has been successfully used over the years to treat them all.
The tissues and cells of the body absorb the light at specific red and infrared wavelengths. Visible red light is absorbed by the skin layers and can be used for treating wounds and infections. Infrared light penetrates into ligaments, joints and bones.
Please Understand this First.
That’s great, and light therapy for pets is great too, but it has some limitations, especially when dealing with pets.
The most important thing to understand about light therapy treatments (the exception being SAD light therapy) is that the light must shine directly on the skin with nothing blocking or diffusing the light rays.
If the light does not penetrate the skin to a sufficient depth there is absolutely zero chance of a good treatment outcome.
So despite some product photos showing unshorn pets being treated, in reality furry pet owners must take the decision to cut or shear away at least a little hair to allow a good treatment outcome. Your pet’s welfare and comfort is your main priority here, so it’s not really a difficult decision to make.
There are lots of light devices on the market for pain management in humans that work very well. and there is no reason to believe that they would not work equally well on animals. But unless you are prepared to shave the treatment area on your furry friend you will be wasting your money and time.
Administer light therapy for pets correctly and the frustration and disappointment of a poor treatment outcome will surely be avoided.
Two of our recommended light therapy devices have been designed and marketed specifically for the treatment of animals, but the same observations are true for them.
How does Light Treatment for Pets work?
Scientifically researched wavelengths of light in the red, infrared and blue spectrum are used individually or in combination to produce a natural response from the body’s own resources.
Some treatments activate the body’s natural defence systems whilst others reactivate complex nutrient systems that start a rejuvenating or healing process.
Red light therapies can also help to reduce pain by the production of nitric oxide. This is a naturally produced, short lived gas, that widens arteries thus increasing circulation around the area being treated.
Pain relief is often fast, and can remain effective for many hours. Unlike drugs the effects of red light therapy do not diminish over time.
To explain briefly:
Cellular: Light stimulates the release of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP helps to carry energy to cells and provides the chemical energy that drives the reactions in the cell. Increases in ATP allow cells to use nutrients faster and get rid of waste products faster.
Collagen: Studies show that LEDs stimulate the production of collagen. Collagen is an essential protein used to repair damaged tissue. It is the most common protein found in the body. It has been cited that by increasing collagen production, less scar tissue is formed at the damaged site.
Circulation : LEDs at specific wavelength increase circulation almost immediately. By helping to generate an increase in blood flow to the treatment areas the light therapy normalizes and heals injured cells. By increasing blood flow more oxygen and nutrients are transported to the affected area, and waste products taken away. Light also stimulates the production of Nitric Oxide which assists with keeping blood vessels elastic and flexible.
Lymphatic: Edema has two components, liquid and protein. Researchers have shown that the lymph diameter and the flow of the lymph system can be nearly doubled with the use of light therapy. This means that both parts of edema can be eliminated at a much faster rate to relieve the appearance of swelling.
Nerve Tissue: Light stimulates the release of endorphins which are the body’s own long term pain fighting chemicals. Studies also show it may also improve peripheral neuropathies in the same way.
Wound Healing : Light stimulates the production of phagocyte cell they are effectively scavenge the dead or degenerated cells. This is an important in fighting the infection process. Infection elimination must occur before the healing process can take place. Fibroblasts are found in the connective tissue and can form underlying layers of collagen. Light also stimulates fibroblastic activities that help in the repair process.
We have written a very detailed easy to understand article about the mechanism of red light therapy here >>.