Home Podcast TOP #40: What Is Low Level Light Therapy for Dogs (LLLT)?

TOP #40: What Is Low Level Light Therapy for Dogs (LLLT)?

In veterinary medicine, Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT) has been used for decades on dogs and cats for a variety of health problems. However, most pet owners haven't heard about it because there was no way to access it for in-home treatments, until recently. So what is low light therapy for dogs, and how can it benefit our pets?

I've decided to do some research on the subject, and discovered a new company called LumaSoothe who developed a handheld LLLT device which pet owners can use for healing their dogs and cats at home. Company's CEO Craig Froley has joined me on this podcast to talk about all the intricacies of Low Level Light Therapy for pets. We discuss how LLLT works, who can benefit the most from it, how it works for senior pets and much more.

Listen to the episode in the video above and find the full podcast transcript below. For more, visit this episode’s post on the official Theory of Pets website.

What Is Low Level Light Therapy for Dogs and How Can It Benefit Our Pets
(podcast transcript)

What Is Low Level Light Therapy for Dogs LLLT

INTRO: Hey guys. Welcome back to Theory of Pets. Today I have a really exciting topic that I don't think a lot of pet owners are educated about. So I wanted to share it with you guys today. It's light therapy for pets.

If you follow my articles on Top Dog Tips or you're a frequent listener to my podcast, you know that I try to focus on natural remedies for my pets as much as I possibly can. Of course, there are times when you need to seek veterinary care and get prescription medications or treatments that aren't natural. But for the most part, I try and do as much holistic, natural care as possible.

We do work with a holistic veterinarian, which I would highly recommend, if there's one in your area.

A lot of people are confused between holistic and all-natural remedies. Holistic medicine isn't necessarily all-natural. They do try to do all natural more often than not, but it's actually a mixture of both, and it's getting down to the root cause of the problem — what is causing the issue, and how can we best fix that? Sometimes that is with western medicine, but a lot of times there are natural treatments.

So today I'm talking about light therapy, and I actually was really, really lucky to be able to talk to the CEO of a company called LumaSoothe, and it's all one word, LumaSoothe. You can find a link to their site on our website, Theoryofpets.com. If you're listening to this in the car, or if you're watching on social media or something like that, you can check out their site.

Basically, the company is focused on finding affordable, quality solutions to pet health issues. LumaSoothe — their biggest seller, their biggest contributor to the pet health field has been the low-level light therapy that they've been able to put into a hand-held device to use with your pets. Mostly dogs and cats, but that's not true, because it can be used with horses, or really, any kind of pet. So keep that in mind. It's not just for dogs and cats. If you're a horse owner, or something like that, that works too.

I was able to actually talk to the company CEO, Craig Froley, and we had a great conversation. He gave me a lot of information about the technology itself and the benefits of it. Of course, their device — they have a light therapy device that's hand held, and they just call it LumaSoothe Light Therapy for Pets. It's a little hand held device with lights on one end; it kind of looks like a cup if you held a cup upside down. The open end of the cup is — there's a clear cover over it, and there's a bunch of little lights on it. You rub it on your dog for many reasons — healthy skin and coat, to relieve inflammation, and pain associated with arthritis, hip dysplasia, back pain, sprains and strains. So this is a product that can be used for all dogs. It's not just about senior pets. That was one of the things that I talked to Craig about. He's going to tell us a little bit more about it in this weeks interview, as well as a lot of other great, great information. I highly recommend every pet owner listen to this about light therapy, because it can be used for puppies, active dogs, dogs that compete, senior dogs, dogs with health issues like cancer, arthritis. So it's some really great information.

Let's check it out.

Interview with Craig Froley

Samantha: First of all, I just want to thank you for being available today and speaking to us.

Light therapy is something that's new to me, and probably to a lot of pet owners, I'm sure you find. I've looked through your website, which is lumasoothe.com, and we'll have a link to that, whether it's on social media or our website or anything. There will be a link there so people can check out your site too. It's full of some great information, but there's a lot of information on there.

Would you want to start by telling us just a little bit about light therapy and maybe how it works and the history of it and all of that good stuff?

Craig: Absolutely. It's interesting you say that you had not heard much about light therapy. Honestly, very few people have. Yet, the technology has been out there for probably close to 40 years. It's been studied in many different forms by people all over the world. It's been used effectively for at least 30 of those years.

NASA, actually, interestingly enough, was one of the original groups interested in the product, and they did a lot of experimentation in space with light therapy for treatment of various little abnormalities that happen — cuts and bruises and aches and pains and whatnot — and found that it's one of the better treatment modalities for the space shuttles.

So it's one of those kind of best kept secrets deals. The basic concept is — it's basically all-natural light; it increases blood flow; it increases circulation, especially micro-circulation, which in turn reduced inflammation. There's an enzyme in all of us and all of our pets called Adenosine triphosphate, and it is one of those little workhorse enzymes that does a myriad of different things throughout the body, and the light therapy activates the ATP — as they call it — and it helps with this process of healing and cleaning up injury kinds of things.

We decided that — gosh, there's light therapy available for humans, and it's been cleared by the FDA for some 12 or 14 years, but no one's ever sat back and said — gosh, what are we doing for our pets?

I had been involved in light therapy for human use for hair regrowth for some time, and it's the same basic concept that we were just speaking about, and decided — I'm a pet owner; multitudes of my friends are all pet owners, and the animals end up having the same problems as either skin-related issues or in a lot of cases as our pets get older, they have arthritic conditions much like us. But nobody's around doing anything for our pets.

So we decided — why don't we sit back; let's build a product that uses the various wavelengths of light therapy, and let's build it for our pets, and let's build it at a price that it's “anyone can afford.”

Veterinarians offer light therapy, many of them, although not all, but a lot of them do, and the problem with it is it's effective and it's expensive. So you could pay $75 to $150 a treatment. Where, with our device, you could pay $149.00 and own it, and treat your pet five days a week.

So we just decided — let's start to work on a product, and we did.

That's what brought us to our LumaSoothe device.

Samantha: Which is a unique device for anybody that hasn't checked out the website before they listened to this, which is probably most listeners. It almost looks like half of a cup to me, and you can easily hold it in your hand on one side, and then the lights are all on the other side, and that's obviously the side that you use to treat your pets. So it's pretty simple as far as the design goes, with makes it easy to use. For me, I know, as a pet owner, as far as technology, and that kind of stuff goes, it's always nice to find something that's just really simple and quick, but very effective at the same time. That's something that I love about the product.

The lights are, like I said, on the bottom, and that's how you treat your dog. A lot of people when they first think of light — as far as like, skin and on your body — they think of the UV light from the sun and skin cancer and those things, but this is a 100% safe treatment.


Craig: Absolutely.

The light-emitting diodes, the LEDs, do not produce light with any ultraviolet, any of that. So you're really getting the best of natural light without any of the downside of sunlight.

Depending upon what you're treating, you use potentially different colors, which represent different wavelengths of light.

So for example, in our deep-treatment head, it is basically filled with 940 nanometer infrared diodes. Infrared is invisible to the human eye. So we have to put some other diodes, a few other diodes in there that show people that it's actually on and functioning. It treats all of those things like arthritis, deep muscle injuries, spinal issues, joints — all over the body. It gets a depth of penetration up to about an inch and a half.

Where the skin treatment head that we have has a variety of different wavelengths in it including yellow and green and blue and red, and those all do a little bit different, but it's all shallow penetration; it only penetrates through the skin layer.

So it treats things like — like in a human — psoriasis, any kind of skin conditions. In dogs, mange.

If the dog or the cat has a surgery, they've got a wound, and it helps that wound heal faster. The blue light is good for — [dog barks]

Samantha: Oops, sorry.

Craig: [laughs] That sounds like our office every now and then when somebody comes to the door.

Samantha: Yes. I work from home so that happens every once in a while.

Craig: Well, we pet owners all understand that. Clearly.

So in any case, the key issue here is — there are a lot of devices on the market made for human use that use red light, and red light's fine and red light's what you use for hair regrowth and a lot of that kind of thing, but the depth of penetration is not anywhere near deep enough to get to joints and spinal issues and whatnot.

We decided we would build a device with two different heads, and they literally just — you just push a little button; one head snaps off; the other one snaps on.

As you mentioned, the device — it only weighs… I don't know what it weighs; it's so light, you hardly even know it's in your hand; it's like a half of a tennis ball, so to speak — and it runs on a 15-minute timer. So generally speaking, you will treat a region, whether it's a hip or a knee, or whatever, for 15 minutes, by just placing the device either on or just slightly above the pet's hair or fur and it goes to work.

But the key is, it's very safe; it's all-natural; it's a very holistic approach. In fact, we've had several people come back to us and say — you know, I've been using your device now for a month or two, and we're actually taking our pet off of the prescription medication for arthritis, and just using a good glucosamine conjoint supplement in addition to the light therapy, which is fantastic. Because any kind of a prescription-type drug is really not good for our pets in the long run, just like it's not good for you and I. And I laugh when I say “you and I” because we have — I'll bet you half of the people who buy our device use it themselves. My wife has an arthritic thumb, and she sits at home and watches television with it on her hand all the time. Because it's the same technology as one would use for human use; we've just decided we want to focus on pets because it's a marketplace relative to light therapy that really hasn't been addressed.

In fact, we have a vet right now that's using it on her horses in their foot and leg areas, seemingly with good results.

It's a nice, safe, easy thing to use. There's nothing to it. It charges on a little USB charger just like your cellphone. So you just plug it in; it charges; it takes about an hour to charge it, and it'll run for anywhere from two to three hours in 15 minute increments before it needs to be recharged, so it's simple and easy.

You don't have to be concerned about hurting the pet, which is really the important thing. With laser therapy, which is what is mostly used in your veterinarian's offices, you have to be very careful to control the dose and the time and whatnot, because, with laser, you can indeed damage the tissue if you're not doing it properly.

Where, with LED light, you really can't. I kind of equate it to the vitamin C thing; if you take too much vitamin C, your body just spills off the excess and that's the end of it. It's a little bit that same concept with the LED light therapy.

In fact, recent studies are starting to conclude that the LED therapy is actually more effective than laser in many of the areas. I'm not totally sure why that is, but I've just been getting some interesting information about that very recently.

Samantha: Wow. That's excellent.

You can use it pretty much anywhere on your dog or your cat's body. Correct? It doesn't matter, like if you have an area on the belly where there's not a lot of hair, or anything like that.

Craig: Absolutely.

The only precaution that we stress with folks is, the lights, they pulse off and on, because pulsing the light wavelength is actually more effective than it being run constantly — but in either case, the thing that's most important is that you don't stare at it with your eyeball. Honestly, I don't think it would hurt you, but… But it's like…

Samantha: Better safe than sorry. Absolutely.

Craig: — temporarily blinding light; it's like — whoa — you just don't want to do that.

So I would not treat a dog around his forehead and eyes. But other than that, there's no place on the body you can't treat safely; it does not generate a bunch of heat.

Generally speaking, once a pet gets kind of used to it, it kind of gives them a relaxed feeling. Normally, they just lay there and enjoy it.

We had a comment from a guy the other day that said — you know, my dog at first was jumping around and really hyper, and didn't want anything to do with the light, and once we worked on it a little bit, it was like he just figured out — wow, this is pretty cool, and just lays there now and enjoys the 15-minute treatment.

Of course, if you have a situation where there's an arthritic hip on both sides, well then you're going to do a 30-minute; it's going to be 15 minutes on a side.

But the pets generally love it, and there's nothing to be concerned about with the power of it or the different wavelengths; it's just all safe and natural.

Samantha: And is your recommendation 15 minutes every day?

Craig: It's really a variable thing. Generally speaking, if we have a situation that you're just beginning to treat, the more often you do it, like, every day… In fact, I know folks that initially started doing it morning and night. Then as the pet — like in an arthritis situation — with arthritis in humans, it doesn't go away; you're not curing it; you're simply making it more livable; you're making it more pain-free, and you're freeing up the movement.

So in that scenario, you're going to treat long term, but you may end up doing it like three times a week for 15 minutes, where initially, you might start doing it every day, and in some cases, twice a day.

Then with things like injuries, if you're only going to treat until the injury is healed or the skin condition is cleared up — and there's some breeds that tend to get skin conditions regularly — so you're using it off and on, on a semi-regular basis.

Samantha: I know there are veterinarians out there, especially, if anybody — we work with a holistic veterinarian — so obviously, as soon as I heard about LumaSoothe I wanted to just ask them about light therapy and if they use it, and things like that. She does, and she does recommend it. But like you said, the treatments at the vet's office are much more expensive; you have to commute your dog to and from to do that. So obviously this is a better alternative to that; you can do it right at your home where your dog's comfortable. But I know our general veterinarian that is right here in our town — we actually have to travel a little ways to find a holistic vet — but the general veterinarian here, when I called and asked, they don't work with light therapy, and I'm sure that's more common with general veterinarians.

But for people who don't have a veterinarian in their area that works with not just LumaSoothe, but all light therapy — there is a ton of great information on your website. I really like the Frequently Asked Questions section, because there are questions like if your dog has cancer, which we already talked about, people worry about UV lights, and things like that, and there are some great things about it — if it's environmentally friendly, and some of the clinical studies on light therapy are on there, which I'm going to share some of those actually on our site as well, because that's great info.

So people can get more information there as well. But what if somebody, if they just can't find a veterinarian that is going to OK this as a treatment for their dog — would you recommend that they just try it for the 15 minutes, and then maybe do another 15 minutes? Is there ever going to be too much light therapy in one day?

Craig: Well, the answer to the question is — if you did it like every two hours, you would not be getting any more benefit than probably doing it once in the morning and once in the evening.

Because the cells absorb the light. They absorb the energy, and that causes the Adenosine triphosphate to get going and causes the circulation increase.

But if you're consistently doing it every couple hours, the cells don't need it that much. So they're basically, just going to — vitamin C concept again — we're just going to sluff off what we don't need here. So I don't think there's any major benefit.

You're right in terms of the veterinarian world. The holistic vets clearly are into alternative stuff. Although a lot of vets that are not “holistic” but are forward-thinking and whatnot, are either using light therapy or they're beginning to use it — those coming out of school and getting into practice, this has been part of their education. Where with those that came out of school 20 years ago or 15 years ago, they probably didn't get much exposure to the light therapy.

I think in a matter of another three or four years, or five years, many of these folks will be on board, because they're reading and hearing more all the time about how effective it is.

We have some folks whose pets were diagnosed with arthritis or a condition or whatever, and the vet recommended light therapy. And the folks were saying — well, gosh, that's really terrific, but I don't have $300 a month to spend. Yet, we can structure a program where, maybe once every four to six weeks, go to the vet, have them use their device, which is more powerful, granted — there's no questioning that — and then in between, use our device. So you're not taking the vet out of the picture all together, and of course the vet will also see the benefit of using the light therapy, either daily or every other day, as the pets come back for their treatment in six weeks, they're moving around a lot better than they were before.

The thing about light therapy, is that if you treat just once in a while because that's all you can afford, so to speak, you're not going to get much benefit, because you do a treatment, and it does what it's supposed to do, but then if you don't do it again for a week or two weeks or three weeks or a month, the next day you've lost most all of that. So it's a process that needs to be continued all along.

We're finding more and more people in the veterinary world are saying — gosh, this isn't challenging to my practice; this is something that would be a nice adjunct to my practice; I could treat here periodically, and they could go home and use this device at home, and the pet will be better off for it, which is ultimately what we're all looking for.

Samantha: Yes. Absolutely. That's a great point, that it can kind of help curb that expense of going to the vet every two or three weeks, whatever they recommend.

So finally, the device itself — you said that it was rechargeable; it takes about an hour to charge. How long would a charge last? Is it lasting just a few days? Or are you charging all the time?

Craig: Typically speaking, the charge time is about an hour, and then it runs on this automatic 15-minute cycle. It will run about two and a half to three hours of 15-minute cycles. So if you're doing it daily, you're probably going to charge once every three or four days.

Lithium Ion batteries are bad for you. They aren't all absolutely consistent one to the other. So we've had people say — well it seems like I'm charging this like every hour and a half of use. And somebody else will say — I'm getting close to two or two and a half.

That's really a function of how the battery smiles when it comes out of production.

Samantha: Right. Yes.

Craig: But generally speaking, it's not something that you use and then you've got to charge it; you can use it several times, and then when you're done, you just plug it into the wall; there's a little micro-USB connection, and then you just plug it in and it tells you when it's done; the light goes from red to green on the little control panel, ready to go again.

Samantha: I know you touched on a lot of those health issues that light therapy can be beneficial to things like arthritis, hip dysplasia, if a dog has recently had surgery — things like that — they might be taking pain medication, or some kind of supplement, whether it's natural or some kind of prescription medication.

Is light therapy safe to use with any of that stuff? Even maybe like a topical ointment or something like that?

Craig: Yes.

The only thing that I would caution or mention — if you have a very thick topical, for example, on a wound, it will inhibit the light a little bit, not completely, but it won't make the light quite as efficient. So in an ideal world, they have the ointment on them on an ongoing basis for a few days or whatever, but you're going to reapply it. Well, when you reapply it, you could actually wipe it off a little bit and then do the treatment, and then reapply it —

Samantha: I see.

Craig: — so you'll get a little bit more efficiency, but there's no reaction of the light therapy to the medication that would be adverse to the pet.

Samantha: That's good to know. Because nowadays, everything seems like it has more side effects than benefits now.

Craig: That's the beauty of, hopefully, using this more holistic approach to these things. So you're not complicating — well the dog's on this; the dog's on this; this reacts with this.

In an ideal world, if you could get them off of all that kind of medication, it's better for the pet, certainly.

Samantha: Absolutely.

Those were all the questions that I had, but if there's anything that you'd like to talk about that we haven't touched on, feel free to throw anything out there.

Craig: You know, I think we pretty much covered all the important things. The thing that motivates us here at Luma-Tech is we want our pets and our customer's pets and everybody's pets to be as healthy as possible with the least amount of drug interaction and whatnot. And pets, especially when they get old, and I keep going back to this arthritis thing, because that — there's a huge percentage of human beings and a like percentage of both dog and cats, horses and you-name-it — that as they get older, arthritis is just a way of life; it is what it is. The drugs that are generally prescribed for that are really not very good for it, both human and pet.

So our whole program here at Luma-Tech is to help get rid of a lot of that stuff if at all possible, or minimize the doses of that in conjunction with the light. We're also looking now at doing some larger light therapy devices. For example, you could treat the entire spinal area of a horse, which is an area where horses generally need help. Because you've got people jumping up and down; the horses are jumping over fences and people are sitting on the horses, and their backs get out of whack.

Samantha: Yes, of course.

Craig: They get inflamed.

So we're looking at expanding to that area as well, but it's the same exact technology; nothing's different; it's just going to be a longer, skinnier device that lays on the back.

We're just committed to the health of our pets. That's the one thing that stands out more than anything.

Just as an aside, when someone decides to buy one of these things, they're going to spend 150 bucks, but the thing comes with a full two-year warranty; anything that goes wrong with it, we replace it immediately, although we get very, very few back, but it's something that we stand behind. We don't have people buying it and having problems with not getting proper customer service; that's not a good thing.

Samantha: I think that's one of the biggest things as consumers that people are looking for, especially when you get into technology and devices that are working with mechanical parts, batteries, things like that, the lights that obviously your product has. People want to know that it's going to work, and one of the ways that I know, for myself, and for a lot of our friends and family that are consumers as well, obviously, what we hear most often is — if a company stands behind what they're selling, if they're telling you we are so confident in this product that we're going to warranty it for a year or two years, or whatever it might be, you're more apt to purchase a product like that.

Whereas, you get on Amazon and you order something, and if it doesn't work and it breaks in a week, you're just out that money. So I think it is important to note that as well.

Of course, just the device being so easy to use, user-friendly, and safe — right now, you said it, sadly, is almost a way of life for pets to have arthritis, hip dysplasia, a lot of it stems from obesity and things like that in younger years. But there's many reason for genetics over breeding. We're seeing a lot more hip and joint and spine issues, disc disease and things like that in dogs.

So to know that there is a treatment that is safe and effective, and something that's not either going to have side effects of it's own or cause any side effects with any of the other treatments that you're using — that's a piece of mind for pet owners.

Like I said, we work with a holistic veterinarian for our dogs, and that's a big part of why we do it. We want to know that the treatment that we're giving is not making anything worse or is not going to affect our dog negatively in another way.

You might be helping the arthritis, but you're hurting the kidneys and the liver with all the prescription medications at the same time. So you're really not doing any favors.

Craig: Absolutely.

One other quick thing too I'll mention that just popped into my mind. We have several people that have dogs that do these competitive events, where they're jumping —

Samantha: Oh, absolutely. Agility and things.

Craig: — and doing all sorts of stuff. This is a great therapeutic device to prevent the dogs from injury.

We have two or three people now that are using that before and after these competitions, to help keep the inflammation down in the joints, and promote the circulation and it makes the dog… A dog's like us, I mean, you overwork yourself, and your muscles get sore. And the better shape you're in, the less that happens of course.

But they're using the light therapy for the deep treatment stuff to kind of give the dog a once-over, either before or after or both, when they have competitions. So it's an interesting approach that we hadn't really even thought about when we first started to work on this product.

Samantha: Absolutely.

I know “working dogs” — for lack of a better term — sporting dogs, are becoming more popular. People are either using them for something that it is kind of a job, like a hunting dog or a retriever. But sports like agility and things like that are becoming a lot more popular too, so that was definitely a great thing to note, to help those joints doing that much work over long periods of time, for years, that the dog is competing.

Their joints, their hips — they're taking a beating for sure. So it would be a great thing if you could prevent early onset arthritis or degenerative diseases like that.

WRAP UP: Speaking with Craig really opened my eyes to what light therapy can offer us as pet owners, what it can offer to our pets. So I hope you guys learned as much from this podcast interview as I did.

I know that I really appreciated talking to Craig, and like I mentioned in the interview — light therapy is something that I feel like a lot of pet parents aren't educated about. We just don't know that it's out there.

So if you think that it might be right for your pet, look into it. Check out the LumaSoothe website.

If you jump on our website, which is theoryofpets.com, we've linked to their site there, and I've also linked to some studies and some great research that shows the benefits of light therapy and things that it can do for your pet. So check that out.

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Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.