Light therapy dog

Light Therapy Treatment for Pets – Red Light Therapy Guide.

Cat with crutch
Poor Little Guy ! Where did he get his crutches !!!

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 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.

We all love our pet animals and don’t want to see them in pain and distress, that’s a given.   And you arrived here reading this article because you are a good and concerned pet owner looking for a solution for the problem that your pet is suffering from.

That’s great and light therapy for pets is great too, but has it’s limitations, especially when dealing with pets.

The first thing to understand about most light therapy treatments (the exception being SAD light therapy) is that the light must reach and penetrate the skin.  If the light does not penetrate the skin there will be absolutely zero chance of a good treatment outcome. 

So unfortunately furry pet owners have a decision to make that involves buying electric clippers at the same time as the light therapy machine.

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 pet you are wasting your time, and your money.

You will find light therapy devices marketed specifically for the treatment of animals, but the same observation is true. The light must reach the skin.

How does Light Treatment for Pets work?

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 >>.

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Scientific Review Papers
Equine wound healing: influence of low level laser therapy on an equine metacarpal wound healing model
Low-intensity laser light-induced closure of a chronic wound in a dog.
Efficacy of low-level laser therapy on hair regrowth in dogs with noninflammatory alopecia: a pilot study.