Red and infrared lights impact on dogs and how vets use it

Photobiomodulation (PBM) or Low-Level Light Therapy (LLLT) with LASERS and to a lesser extent, with Light Emitting Diodes (Red and Infrared Light Therapy), is a well known non-invasive interventional technique used in veterinary medicine for both rehabilitation and therapeutic purposes.
In fact, according to Dr. Yasukawa from the Veterinary Medical Hospital in Tokyo, Japan, veterinary medicine LLLT has become clinically applicable since the early 1990s for pain relief, inflammatory control and rehabilitation in various surgical and orthopedic disorders, especially wound healing, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, spondylosis deformans, osteoarthritis, intervertebral disc herniation, bone fracture, contusion and other types of luxations (Yasukawa et al., 2006).
Despite the numerous accounts and studies of the positive effects, exact protocols for various conditions are still not well consolidated (Wardlaw et al., 2019).
In any event, here are some specific examples of positive effects of LLLT for the canine population:
A Preoperative LLLT in dogs undergoing tibial plateau levelling osteotomy demonstrated that the use of LLLT may improve postoperative return to function following canine osteotomies and its use is recommended (Rogatko et al., 2017)
In a study that looked at LLLT for for Incision Healing conducted at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University in Starkville, daily application of LLLT hastened post-operative wound healing in Dachshunds. It also improved the cosmetic appearance of scars (Wardlaw et al. 2019).
A team from the Veterinary Faculty, Alfonso X “El Sabio” University in Madrid, Spain showed that LLLT decreased bacterial loads of contaminated wounds in dogs and improved wound scores as an adjuvant therapy for traumatic contaminated wound management (Rico-Holgado et al., 2021)
Preliminary findings from a study conducted in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tripoli in Italy suggest that LLLT may help reducing the use of analgesics and improves client satisfaction and the quality of life of dogs with osteoarthritis-associated pain (Barale et al., 2020)
Finally, a study conducted at the Ethos Veterinary Health in Massachusetts demonstrated that photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) for 6 weeks was successful in improving lameness and pain scores, and in lowering NSAID requirement in canine elbow osteoarthritis patients (Looney et al., 2018).
Taken together, LLLT studies conducted specifically with canines has shown to improve postoperative return to function, to decrease bacterial loads and improve wound scores, to decrease scaring after surgery, and to reduce the use of analgesics, as well as lameness and pain.
A. Yasukawa, T. Satoh, M. Kaneko, Y. Koyama, M. Nagai, K. Takakuda. Clinical Effectiveness of LLLT in 100 Canine Patients with Orthopedics. World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2006.
Barale L, Monticelli P, Raviola M, Adami C. Preliminary clinical experience of low-level laser therapy for the treatment of canine osteoarthritis-associated pain: A retrospective investigation on 17 dogs. Open Vet J. 2020 Apr;10(1):116-119. doi: 10.4314/ovj.v10i1.16. Epub 2020 Mar 30. PMID: 32426264; PMCID: PMC7193873.
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. PMID: 30197438; PMCID: PMC6091142.
Rico-Holgado S, Ortiz-Díez G, Martín-Espada MC, Fernández-Pérez C, Baquero-Artigao MR, Suárez-Redondo M. Effect of Low-Level Laser Therapy on Bacterial Counts of Contaminated Traumatic Wounds in Dogs. J Lasers Med Sci. 2021 Dec 12;12:e78. doi: 10.34172/jlms.2021.78. PMID: 35155163; PMCID: PMC8837844.
Rogatko CP, Baltzer WI, Tennant R. Preoperative low level laser therapy in dogs undergoing tibial plateau levelling osteotomy: A blinded, prospective, randomized clinical trial. Vet Comp Orthop Traumatol. 2017 Jan 16;30(1):46-53. doi: 10.3415/VCOT-15-12-0198. Epub 2016 Dec 9. PMID: 27935005.
Wardlaw JL, Gazzola KM, Wagoner A, Brinkman E, Burt J, Butler R, Gunter JM, Senter LH. Laser Therapy for Incision Healing in 9 Dogs. Front Vet Sci. 2019 Jan 29;5:349. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2018.00349. PMID: 30761311; PMCID: PMC6362418.