Skip to content

Is Red Light Therapy Safe for Pets?


In the last decade, red light therapy has become one of the most popular treatments among veterinarians and pet owners. [1] But is red light therapy safe for pets? In this article we’ll look at the clinical evidence and explain why red light therapy is a safe, well-tolerated treatment for pets with few risks or side effects.

What is Red Light Therapy and How Does it Work?

Red light therapy is the practice of delivering wavelengths of red and near infrared (NIR) light to an animal  in order to improve health and mobility. It is a low-risk treatment option for pets that is noninvasive, chemical-free, and easy to do at home, especially with a light-emitting diode (LED)-based kennel like Glowbie.

Veterinarians have been using various forms of red light therapy since the 1990s, but it has become far more common in the last decade, with roughly 20% of clinics using some type of red light treatments. [1,2]

Red light therapy works for animals because it helps them make more cellular energy to power their bodily systems. Specifically, 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. [3,4] You can learn more about the science behind how red light therapy works here.

How Red Light Therapy Works Pets

Red Light Therapy is Safe and Well-Tolerated by Pets

One of the biggest advantages of red light therapy treatments is how simple and safe they are for animals. The red and NIR light delivered to an animal’s body is no different from the wavelengths of light they take in from the sun. It is a quick, simple treatment with very few risks. The safety of red light therapy is backed by clinical research and widespread support among veterinarians.

Red Light Therapy Safety is Supported by Clinical Research

Red light therapy has been studied and tested in peer-reviewed clinical trials, with overwhelmingly positive results for pet safety. In almost every study, red light treatments have been well-tolerated by animals with few, if any, side effects. [4,5,6] One review of red light therapy use for chronic joint disorders concluded that treatments are “drug-free and relatively side-effect free and seem to work where pharmaceuticals do not.” [7] 

Most companion animals enjoy sitting in red light during a treatment, and many studies have noted how well animal subjects tolerate the therapy. Researchers wrote in one paper that “all dogs enrolled in the study appeared calm and comfortable for light therapy.” [8] In study after study, dogs, cats, and horses have tolerated red light treatments with no adverse effects or safety concerns.

Check out this page to see all the animal health benefits of red light therapy

Red Light Therapy Side Effects Pets

Leading Veterinarians Trust Red Light Therapy for Pets

Red light therapy has become a popular treatment among veterinarians. [1] The field has embraced red light as a safe, effective, and inexpensive way to enhance the health of pets like cats, dogs, horses, mice, rats, ferrets, and other mammals. [9] Vets trust red light therapy because it is quick and easy to use with animals and comes with few risks or side effects. No potentially harmful drugs or chemicals are used, and treatments are typically less than 10 minutes. Professional organizations are now also publishing guidelines for effective red light therapy treatments for dogs and cats. [10] This helps standardize practice and make red light therapy even safer and more effective.

Glowbie has designed the first red light therapy crates for in-home use, allowing pet owners to do veterinary-grade treatments in a safe, convenient environment. Glowbie was created with expert input from some of the best veterinarians in the world, like Dr. Ronald Hirschberg, director of Brockton Animal Hospital in Massachusetts. In addition, Dr. Richard Godine, a past president of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, believes light therapy is one of the most important modalities in his practice, and has helped Glowbie create a home device with optimal wavelengths and power for animal health. 

Clinical Proven Benefits Red Light Therapy Pets

Minimals Risks or Side Effects are Associated with Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy is one of the safest, least invasive treatments in veterinary practice; however, pet owners should be aware of a few risks and precautions. Animals with specific light and photosensitivity issues should not use red light therapy. It is not recommended to treat animals that experience seizures. It is also generally suggested to avoid direct red light therapy exposure for pregnant pets. For animals with active cancers or a specific medical condition, it is best to seek advice from a trusted veterinary provider before use.

Conclusion: Red Light Therapy is Safe and Effective for Pets

Is red light therapy safe for pets and animals? Yes. Clinical research and veterinary practice have shown that red light therapy is safe, effective, and well-tolerated by animals. In study after study, a wide variety of animals have reacted positively to red light therapy treatments, with almost no side effects. Treatments are noninvasive and chemical- and drug-free, and most animals enjoy being in the glow of red light.

If you have more questions, check out this FAQ post about red light therapy for pets.


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

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

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

[4]  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.

[5] Looney AL, Huntingford JL, Blaeser LL, Mann S. A randomized blind placebo-controlled trial investigating the effects of photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) on canine elbow osteoarthritis. Can Vet J. 2018 Sep;59(9):959-966.

[6] 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.

[7]  Bjordal, J.M., et al., A systematic review of low level laser therapy with location-specific doses for pain from chronic joint disorders. Aust J Physiother, 2003.

[8] 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. 

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

[10]  WALT Guidelines.