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Helping Pets Heal and Recover from Injuries with Red Light Therapy


Red light therapy is widely used by veterinarians to help animals heal and recover from injuries and wounds. Red light therapy is also a safe, effective way to relieve pain and inflammation when your pet is injured. 

In this article, we’ll explain why veterinarians use red light therapy to treat injuries and pain in dogs, cats, horses, and other pets. We’ll also explain how you can treat your pets at home with a red light therapy crate from Glowbie that helps reduce pain and stimulate healing.

Red Light Therapy is a Safe, Effective Treatment for Pets with Injuries and Pain

Pain, strain, and acute trauma and injuries are among the most common reasons dogs and cats see veterinarians for medical care. [1] Any pet can suffer a fall, fracture a limb, or get injured during play, and dogs are especially at risk for traumatic injuries from vehicle accidents. 

When a pet does get hurt and feels pain, medications and surgeries  can help pets, but these always come with risks of dependency, complications, and withdrawal. Many pet owners are looking for a more natural, less invasive option for treating their animals’ injuries and pain. 

In the last decade, red light therapy has emerged as a popular injury treatment among veterinarians and pet owners alike. [2] It has become a trusted recovery modality among professionals in the animal rehabilitation and recovery space. [2,3] 

Red light therapy is now widely used by veterinarians to treat injuries. Recent studies have shown that red light has positive effects on an animal’s inflammatory and immune response, promoting cell proliferation, bone regeneration, and collagen production. [4,5,6]

101 Red Light Therapy Pets

What is Red Light Therapy and How Does it Work for Pets?

Red light therapy is the practice of delivering wavelengths of red and near infrared (NIR) light to animals to improve their health and healing. It is noninvasive, chemical-free, and well-tolerated by pets with few, if any, major side effects. 

Veterinarians have been using various forms of red light therapy since the 1990s, but it has become far more common in the last decade.Roughly 20% of clinics are currently using some type of red light treatments, especially for treating injuries. [2,7] In simplest terms, red light therapy improves healing outcomes for pets because it helps mammals regenerate cells and collagen faster and produce more energy at the cellular level.

Red light is absorbed in the mitochondria where it helps pets make more adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the crucial energy that all mammals need to power themselves and their immune systems. Red and NIR light also helps reduce oxidative stress and inflammation and improve blood flow. [8,9,10] For injuries and wounds, red light treatments are effective because they stimulate an animal’s body to make more of the key building blocks of healing, like skin cells, bone cells, fibroblasts, and collagen. [5] You can learn more about how red light therapy works here.

Many veterinarians use low-level laser devices to shine red and NIR light on animals they treat for injuries. Previously, only vets had access to light therapy for animals. But today, thanks to advances in light emitting diode (LED) technology, pet owners are now able to treat animals at home with LED-based red light therapy crates from Glowbie. The crates allow dogs, cats, and other pets to benefit from red light therapy in the comfort of home, without the stressful vet visits.

How Red Light Therapy Helps Dog Cat Heal Fast

Red Light Therapy Helps Pets Recover from Injuries, Wounds, and Pain

Red light therapy helps animals heal and recover faster from fractures and bone and joint damage. Numerous clinical studies have shown that red light treatments have a positive effect on a mammal’s bone regeneration, helping damaged bones recover faster through a process of photobiostimulation. [5] When a dog or cat suffers a fracture, red light therapy treatments can help their bodies and cells repair the damage more effectively, with less inflammation and pain along the way. 

Red light therapy helps animals recover from injuries because red and NIR light prompt the body to produce more of the building blocks of healing. Wavelengths of red light stimulate the release of growth factors involved in the formation of new skin cells, fibroblasts, and collagen, helping an animal make these building blocks more efficiently during a recovery period. Red light therapy treatments have also been shown to increase the total number of osteocytes, crucial bone cells needed for fracture recovery. [5]

Research has also shown that red light therapy may accelerate the synthesis of bone matrix due to increased vascularization and a reduced inflammatory response. [5] In summary, red light treatments help an animal’s body establish more ideal conditions for repair and recovery. Therefore, animals using red light therapy recover faster from injuries with less pain and inflammation. [5]

Click here to see all the pet health benefits of red light therapy.

Dogs and Cats Heal from Surgery More Effectively with Red Light Therapy

Clinical research has shown that red light therapy sessions can make a big difference in a dog’s ability to heal and get active again after a surgery. In one of the earliest controlled trials among companion animals, a prospective study analyzed 36 dogs that underwent spinal surgery for intervertebral disk herniation. [11] One group of dogs was treated with red light therapy for five days after surgery while the control group was not treated.Researchers concluded that the dogs treated with red light therapy were able to walk again sooner and with less pain than dogs that received no red light treatments. [11]

Research Pets Heal Faster Surgery Red Light Therapy

Research Shows Red Light Therapy Helps Animals Recover from Skin Wounds

Clinical research has also shown that red light therapy helps animals heal from skin wounds and injuries. In a study with dachshund dogs, veterinary researchers demonstrated that incision scars healed significantly faster after red light treatments. [12] Their surveys also showed that the dogs’ skin showed significantly improved cosmetic appearance in the weeks after surgery. [12]

A 2016 in vivo study looked at the effects of red light therapy treatments on dog skin cells in a clinical wound healing model. [6] The researchers found that canine cells exposed to red light “migrated significantly more rapidly and showed significantly higher rates of proliferation.” [6] In other words, dog skin cells exposed to red light would be expected to heal faster from wounds and injuries. The researchers concluded that red light therapy is an attractive method to enhance wound healing and improve clinical outcomes both in human and veterinary medicine.” [6]

Tendon and Ligament Injuries Heal Faster with Red Light Therapy

Recent studies on horse injuries have demonstrated that red light treatments improve the recovery process for ligaments and tendons. Compared to control groups, horses treated with red light showed significant improvements in pain levels with far less swelling and lameness. [13] A separate 2019 study on horse lameness also found that red light therapy treatments improved ligament conditions and helped injured horses return to sporting activities sooner with less pain. [14]

Better Clinical Results Red Light Therapy Pets

Injured Pet's Pain is Reduced with Red Light Treatments

Almost every injury a pet experiences comes with pain and inflammation. Treating animals with pain medications risks dependency and withdrawal issues, but red light therapy is a noninvasive option with a strong clinical record. One peer-reviewed study looked at red light therapy as a pain relief method for cats with tongue and mouth injuries. Researchers found that red and NIR light can have an analgesic effect, reducing the pain cats with injuries experienced. [15] Numerous other studies have noted that red light eases the pain of animal subjects. [3,4,11]

Vitally, these studies have also shown red light treatments to be safe and well-tolerated by animals. You can learn more about the safety of red light therapy treatments for pets on this page

Conclusion: Red Light Therapy is a Safe, Effective Way to Help Animals Heal and Recover from Injuries and Pain

Red light therapy treatments are widely used by veterinarians and pet owners to treat pain, injuries, wounds, and fractures in animals. Clinical research has shown that red light treatments can significantly improve a pet’s ability to heal and recovery from injury. Wavelengths of red light help stimulate an animal’s body to make more energy and produce more of the building blocks of healing like skin cells, bone cells, and collagen. Today, pet owners can treat their pets with red light therapy in the comfort of home with a Glowbie light therapy crate.

Did you know red light therapy is also an effective treatment for chronic pet conditions like arthritis, myelopathy, and spinal degeneration? Check out this article to learn more about treating chronic animal pain with red light therapy. If you have general questions about red light therapy for animals, start here: everything you need to know about red light therapy for pets.


[1] Today’s Veterinary Practice. Top 10 Reasons why pets see a veterinarian. 2021.

[2] Godine RL. Low level laser therapy (LLLT) in veterinary medicine. Photomed Laser Surg. 2014 Jan;32(1):1-2.

[3] Gross DM. Introduction to therapeutic lasers in a rehabilitation setting. Top Companion Anim Med. 2014 Jun;29(2):49-53.

[4] Hochman L. Photobiomodulation Therapy in Veterinary Medicine: A Review. Top Companion Anim Med. 2018 Sep;33(3):83-88

[5] Escudero JSB, Perez MGB, de Oliveira Rosso MP, Buchaim DV, Pomini KT, Campos LMG, Audi M, Buchaim RL. Photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) in bone repair: A systematic review. Injury. 2019 Nov;50(11):1853-1867.

[6] Gagnon D, Gibson TW, Singh A, zur Linden AR, Kazienko JE, LaMarre J. An in vitro method to test the safety and efficacy of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in the healing of a canine skin model. BMC Vet Res. 2016 Apr 8;12:73.

[7] Pryor B, Millis DL. Therapeutic laser in veterinary medicine. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2015 Jan;45(1):45-56. 

[8] Hamblin M. Mechanisms and applications of the anti-inflammatory effects of photobiomodulation. AIMS Biophysics. 2017 May.

[9] Karu T. Primary and Secondary Mechanisms of Action of Visible to Near-IR Radiation on Cells. Journal of Photochemistry Photobiology. 1999 Mar.

[10] Ferraresi C, Kaippert B, et al. Low-level Laser (Light) Therapy Increases Mitochondrial Membrane Potential and ATP Synthesis in C2C12 Myotubes with a Peak Response at 3-6 h. Photochemistry and Photobiology. 2015 Mar.

[11]  Draper WE, Schubert TA, Clemmons RM, Miles SA. Low-level laser therapy reduces time to ambulation in dogs after hemilaminectomy: a preliminary study. J Small Anim Pract. 2012 Aug;53(8):465-9.

[12] Wardlaw JL, Gazzola KM, Wagoner A, et al. Laser Therapy for Incision Healing in 9 Dogs. Front Vet Sci. 2019;5:349. Published 2019 Jan 29.

[13]  Seo UH, Kim JH, Lee BH. Effects of Mulligan Mobilization and Low-Level Laser Therapy on Physical Disability, Pain, and Range of Motion in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. Healthcare (Basel). 2020 Jul 29;8(3):237. 

[14]  Quiney L, Murray R, Dyson S. Management of Primary Injuries of the Medial Collateral Ligament of the Carpus in Two Horses. J Equine Vet Sci. 2020 Mar;86:1028

[15] Mezawa S, Iwata K, Naito K, Kamogawa H. The possible analgesic effect of soft-laser irradiation on heat nociceptors in the cat tongue. Arch Oral Biol. 1988;33(9):693-4.