Light Therapy for Aging Pets

Our pets are a part of the family. For some pet owners, their pets are their only companions. The importance of our furry friends in our lives cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, pets also experience many of the same problems we face as we age. Medications can help alleviate some of the symptoms, but there is always the risk of side effects. There’s also the issue of getting your pet to take the medication and if you have fought this battle you know exactly what that can be like.

There is an easier way to help our aging pets find relief from arthritis and other types of pain. Light therapy is proving to be a safe and effective treatment option.

A Success Story with the Green Light

This is my cat Socks. I inherited her when I bought my property in 2017 and she was the dedicated barn cat. You could not bring her inside for anything!

She was very affectionate and went with me all over the property. Her favorite was to ride on my shoulder and we would do chores, go get the mail or just hang out. But one day everything changed with a nasty sore on her ear that turned out to be cancer.

She was at the vet’s for several days before the diagnosis so by the time I was able to bring her home she had been caged for about a week. She was very upset as you can see in the video and I needed to figure out how to calm her down.

Enter the Green Light and it was a life saver as you can see how she chose to respond to that! I just left the light with her and soon she was sound asleep. We made it thru her recovery and she has now gone 100% deaf and moved herself into the house.

We are looking forward to many more years with Socks!

What is Light Therapy?

Light therapy has over a twenty year history as an alternative treatment for humans suffering from a variety of ailments. Different colored lights treat various symptoms that include pain relief. Inflammation and some skin conditions are also treated with light therapy. The same treatment can also provide relief for aging pets.

How light therapy works is relatively simple. Various wavelengths of light penetrate your pet’s skin, along with bones, muscles, and the animal’s blood. In fact, a study in The Canadian Veterinary Journal found light therapy helped a dog’s elbow joint that was struggling with osteoarthritis.

The photoreceptors in the cells receive a burst of energy and the benefits depend on the color of the light waves.

For example, red light can aid in healing minor wounds and simulate the feeling your pet experiences with acupuncture therapy. Infrared light can reach deeper into your pet’s body, reaching the ligaments, joints, bones, tendons, and muscles.

Dr. Steve Stewart uses the Visum Light in his practice everyday. As you can see, there are no shortages as to ways to use this light to help your pet. Nor are there any shortages on the types of animals that benefit from this therapy.

What are the Benefits of Light Therapy for Aging Pets?

Light therapy can help treat a variety of conditions that develop in aging pets. It’s also an effective preventive treatment option. It stimulates cellular regeneration that in turn can reduce inflammation. It can also improve circulation.

Scar tissues and symptoms of edema can be improved with regular light therapy. Your pet’s immune system can receive a boost and many dog and cat owners notice an improvement in their furry companion’s range of motion.

Some of the conditions light therapy are commonly used to treat include:

  • Injuries to the soft tissue
  • Inflammation
  • Torn and strained ligaments
  • Problems with tendons
  • Sprains and strains
  • Swelling
  • Wounds, cuts, and scrapes
  • Pain in the neck, shoulders, back, and hips
  • Arthritis
  • Relief from post-surgery pain

Light therapy not only treats existing issues. It is an effective way to help your pet maintain healthy joints throughout its life.

How to Use Light Therapy on Pets

Before you start any light therapy treatments at home, always consult with your veterinarian. Light therapy is safe, and currently has no known side effects, but it’s always a good idea to speak to a professional before starting your pet on a new health regime. It can be especially important for older pets.

Light therapy for humans and pets follows the same steps. You also want to use the correct light color. Not all light colors produce the same results. For example, green light is calming and can help reduce inflammation. Red light also treats inflammation but has additional benefits. Your pet’s healthcare provider can help you determine the right color and wavelength.

Your pet’s size is a consideration. Smaller animals require shorter treatment sessions than larger ones. Try starting with ten-minute sessions three or four times a week. You can always increase or decrease the therapy as needed.

The thickness of your pet’s fur determines the distance from the light source. Pets with thicker coats need to be closer to the handheld device. Sometimes, shaving the area you are treating may be necessary. Thicker fur coats can block the light waves from reaching the deeper tissue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is light therapy safe for aging pets?
A. The age of your pet doesn’t matter. Light therapy is a non-invasive and safe procedure. Whether you are using red, near-infrared, or a combination of both, your pet will benefit from the therapy. In younger pets, it can help speed up recovery from injuries. Older pets can experience relief from joint pain and move around more easily.

Q. Are there side effects with light therapy?
A. Typically, there are zero side effects associated with light therapy, according to Dr. Tomislav Meštrović, MD, Ph.D. However, it also depends on the color of the light wavelength. Using the wrong color light can produce some side effects. For example, insomnia, irritability, eye strain, and sleep disturbances are common complaints when the wrong color of light is used. When you are using light therapy to treat aging pets, you want to stick with red or near-infrared light to prevent potential side effects. It also benefits your pet.

Q. Are there times when you shouldn’t use light therapy on pets?
A. Even though red and near-infrared light therapy is recommended by veterinarians, and considered safe, some pets will not benefit from the treatment. Pets that are prone to seizures will want to avoid light therapy. It’s also a good idea to stop using the treatment when your pet is pregnant. Pets undergoing cancer treatment or have another serious medical condition will want to postpone light therapy until it is approved by their veterinarian.

Q. Are red and near-infrared lights the same?
A. Both red and near-infrared lights are recommended as a treatment option for aging pets. However, there are differences between the two types of light. Red light only penetrates the upper skin. It can improve skin texture and appearance. Red light is also an effective way to treat minor aches and pain. Near-infrared light penetrates deeper. It can reach the tendons, muscles, and bones. Older pets with arthritis, and other mobility issues, will benefit from near-infrared light. For best results, most veterinarians recommend using a combination of red and near-infrared during the treatment sessions.

Skip the Clinic and Treat Your Aging Pet at Home

Veterinarian appointments are often expensive and time-consuming. You can treat your aging pet with light therapy at home. The handheld device is easy to use and won’t startle skittish pets. It’s silent and effective at treating a variety of conditions that can plague aging pets.

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Resources

Looney, A.L. et al. (2018) A randomized blind placebo-controlled trial investigating the effects of photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) on canine elbow osteoarthritis, The Canadian veterinary journal = La revue veterinaire canadienne. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6091142/ (Accessed: December 23, 2022).

Meštrović, D.T. (2022) Light therapy safety and side effects, News. Available at: https://www.news-medical.net/health/Light-Therapy-Safety-and-Side-Effects.aspx (Accessed: December 23, 2022).