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Red Light Therapy vs Pulsed Electromagnetic Therapy (PEMF) For Dogs

Updated: Apr 9

Dog receiving red light therapy from a practitioner

The common medicinal approach, used everywhere these days, is losing the trust of people day by day. The main reason for losing people's interest is the adverse effects related to every treatment and prescription. At the same time, the holistic medicine approach is gaining people's interest as one of the best therapies without any side effects. Holistic therapies such as red-light therapy and pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy are both very popular holistic therapies.

People have started to use holistic therapies as an alternative and supplementary approach to veterinary care. The holistic medicine approach has recently become quite famous for animals, especially dogs and cats. Pet parents tend to use the same modalities on their pets as they are using. We have access to exercise classes that use light therapy, spas that use infrared light, and PEMF practitioners. We have the same type of cells and body functions as animals. So, why wouldn't these therapies work for them too?

Red light therapy and PEMF therapies are being used for a number of conditions in dogs. But the question arises here, which therapy, red light therapy or PEMF, works better for our dogs?

To answer that question, let us discuss each one of the therapies separately and then compare the advantages and disadvantages of both these therapies.

Importance of Dog Alternative Therapies

man with his dog outside

Dogs are companion animals, and they live and breath with their owners. Dogs have been domesticated to live in a confined environment of a house. However, dogs are always prone to injury inside and outside of the house. When running around the house, it is common for them to slip and fall. They can even fall outside while running or chasing something. They may get injured, inflamed joints or fractured bones after getting hurt. These areas may also get infected and become diseased. Even when your dog gets older, he still experiences conditions of pain such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, knee pain and more.

These are the common issues a dog can face living inside and outside of the house. The problem is that when your dog needs medication and allopathic treatment for each of these common issues, the remedy chosen may also have side effects. Holistic medicine approach, red light therapy and PEMF, reduces the time your pet needs to be on a medication that may have side effects. Holistic therapy provides the cells in the body with the necessary energy to cope with the disease and start naturally healing and reviving.

These modalities are great to use before the injury occurs, but also works amazing as complementary care. Reducing the amount of visits to the vet is always a pet parents goal. We want our babies to always feel their best, but also save on those expensive vet bills and medications. Choosing to provide our babies with the best holistic care is key to these goals.

I am writing this article owing to the increasing demand know about holistic therapies, red light therapy and PEMF.

happy dog receiving red light therapy session for arthritis

What is red light therapy?

Red light therapy has been researched for many years, and these days it is one of the most popular alternative therapies used for a variety of purposes in dogs. Red light therapy is referred to as the gentle, safe and effective method of healing. The base of red-light therapy is that it provides the cells necessary energy to heal. Whenever an infection or trauma occurs, cell damage occurs. Damaged cells lose their energy and ability to recover in their normal state. In light therapy, packets of light energy are bombarded on the cells. These tiny packets of light energy transfer their energy to the cells, and cells regain their power to heal and recover back to their normal state quicker.

dog receiving a red light therapy session

When we go back to the origins of light therapy, we see that light therapy was used on humans, and low-level laser (LLLT) therapy was used on animals. Since the development of science, we came to know that LEDs used in light therapy are as effective as lasers. LEDs deliver the same wavelength and intensity of light as lasers do, but laser equipment is more costly and can cause damage if not used properly. LEDs are safer, more accessible and have the same efficacy as lasers; therefore, we see these pieces of equipment in our homes.

How does red light therapy work?

It is the most simple and interesting question to ask. The answer is simple: it delivers an energy boost to the cells, resulting in a wide range of health benefits. Let us discuss the specifics of red light therapy. Red and near infrared wavelengths of light are able to penetrate the tissue. They can penetrate almost all kinds of body tissue, such as muscles, tendons, and even bones. The near infrared (NIR) wavelength is invisible to the human eye, and its source is thermal radiation. Whenever your body radiates heat, it radiates it in the form of infrared wavelengths. Red light and infrared lights are a form of energy. When this energy falls on the body tissues, it increases blood circulation, stimulates collagen production, and boosts the healing process.

red light and near infrared light penetration depths shown in chart

Red light stimulates ATP production, which in turn promotes collagen production. ATP is the molecular unit of energy in the body. Red light promotes the production of ATP inside the cells. It does so by stimulating the oxidative metabolism of mitochondria. The oxidative metabolism of mitochondria then increases the utilization of oxygen and carbohydrates to produce more energy. Therefore, we say that red light therapy provides the cell with the necessary energy to manage its damage. With increased energy, cells can perform faster; some studies say that cell efficiency increases by 200% when we subject it to red light therapy.

What are the benefits of red light therapy?

There are quite a number of benefits of red-light therapy. Because red light therapy energies the cell, it can help the body with a number of health conditions. Some of the benefits of red light therapy are mentioned below.

dog enjoying red light therapy sleeps
  • Joint pain and stiffness

  • Promote healthy skin and coat

  • Reducing inflammation

  • Healing wounds and reducing scar tissue

  • Increasing lymphatic drainage to rid the body of infections and viruses

  • Heal tendon and ligament injuries

  • Exercise & overexertion recovery

  • Pre- and post-performance recovery

  • Promotes wound healing and tissue repair

  • Stimulates healing of slow-healing wounds

There is a lot of clinical data to support this argument. It is important to understand the clinical importance of the above-mentioned benefits in an easy way. Some dog breeds, such as hounds and bulldogs, are very susceptible to arthritis. Although arthritis is not limited to these breeds, it is common in large breed dogs. Therefore, so many practices are used to cope with this issue. However, red light therapy is considered one of the best practices. There is growing evidence that claims that red light therapy has been very effective in treating inflammations such as arthritis.

Dog laying on a PEMF pad
Photo credit: Doglicious Spa

What is PEMF?

PEMF or pulsed electromagnetic field therapy is a holistic medicinal therapy that uses electromagnetic fields to treat different health problems. Mostly, PEMF is used to treat arthritis, pain, neurological issues and musculoskeletal problems. The electromagnetic field provides the cells with energy; it also increases the cell's healing potential. The effect of red light therapy and PEMF on the body is almost the same. Pets are living longer these days due to advancements in the field of medicine. The long lives of dogs make them more vulnerable to injuries and chronic pain. Dogs often face chronic pain because of musculoskeletal problems. It is best to use a multi-modal approach to treat such problems. PEMF, as red light therapy, is a non-invasive alternative approach that has shown quite an advancement these days.

PEMF therapy uses electromagnetic waves of low frequencies that target the body cells to relieve them from pain and boost healing. PEMF is quite different from electric stimulation; that depends on the current to create local pain relief in tissues. Sick or damaged cells sense the low-frequency electromagnetic waves and absorb their energy. When sick or damaged cells sense the electromagnetic waves, there occurs an increase in the cell energy. Energy production in the cell increases, which further increases the blood flow to that targeted area. Increased blood flow increases the influx of anti-inflammatory cells to the targeted area, which provides relief from pain, decreases the swelling and starts healing. PEMF treatment also induces the release of the body's endorphins, which are natural pain relievers.

dog laying happy while getting pulsed electromagnetic field session
Photo credit: Tryon PEMF

How does PEMF work?

PEMF uses magnets of different sizes to create an electromagnetic field on the targeted area. These magnets are fixed on the targeted area for a specified time suggested by the professional. Magnets can be tied, taped or glued to the targeted area. Most practitioners use pads, beds, or even tube like devices that have the magnets built in. The working principle and the effect of both therapies are the same. The only difference is the source of energy. PEMF, or magnetic therapy, uses the electromagnetic waves that target the affected area of the body and provide them with the necessary energy they need.

The electromagnetic waves, like red light therapy, strike the body's pressure points. The pressure points when stimulated produce the body energy or "Chi", which is responsible for boosting the healing potential of the tissues.

PEMF devices are approved by the United States Food and Drug Authority. Several types of magnets are used, and their design and size depend on the size of the animal and the area of the use.

dog receiving a pulsed electromagnetic field therapy session PEMF
Photo credit: Tryon PEMF

What are the benefits of PEMF?

PEMF provides a lot of benefits to dogs. Some of the common benefits of PEMF are as follows.

  • PEMF boost the natural recovery process of the body

  • PEMF corrects the cellular dysfunction throughout the body

  • PEMF improves the athletic performance

  • PEMF provides your dog with more natural energy

  • PEMF helps your dog improve faster from recovery

There are some indications for the use of PEMF therapy in dogs. Dogs suffering from the below-mentioned conditions can be suggested for PEMF therapy.

  • Chronic inflammation of joints or arthritis

  • Osteoporosis or osteopenia

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Poor wound healing

  • Peripheral neuropathy

Dogs suffering from musculoskeletal problems are often suggested PEMF therapy. If your dog is suffering from pain or dysfunction in any of the below-mentioned areas, you should consider PEMF therapy.

  • Back

  • Knees

  • Hips

  • Shoulders

  • Paws


Both red light therapy and PEMF therapy aim to boost the natural self-healing potential of the body. The only difference in both therapies is the source of energy. However, the efficacy of both the therapies and their effect on the body is almost the same. Both therapies aim to increase the body energy or "Chi", which is lost when cells experience damage.

The best thing you can do for your pets is to provide the best care. Preventative care will always be the key to a happy and healthy animal. Just like when you brush your teeth to prevent cavities, your pets need prevention care as well. You don't even need to choose between red light therapy and PEMF because they both complement each other! Book your red light therapy sessions with us today!

These modalities are not always the best option when faced with medical emergencies. It is important to reach out to your vet when an emergency arises. The technology in modern medicine has seen wonderful improvements to help our animals heal and you can always choose to complement recovery with red light therapy and PEMF. Sometimes, we need both modern medicine and holistic medicine to help our animals. But again, preventative care is going to be your best option to helping them stay happy and healthy!

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