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Harnessing Light for Equine Wellness: The Science of LED Therapy Lights

In the field of equine care and rehabilitation, advancements in technology have brought forth innovative solutions for promoting the health and well-being of our beloved horses.

Among these breakthroughs, LED therapy lights have emerged as a powerful tool, utilizing the principles of photobiomodulation (PBM) to address a myriad of conditions and enhance overall equine wellness. In this blog, we explain the science behind LED therapy lights for horses, shedding light on how this technology works and its applications in veterinary and animal care settings.

Understanding Photobiomodulation

You may ask “Is this technology real?” PBM devices have been cleared by FDA through the Premarket Notification/510(k), based on clinical studies.  At the heart of LED therapy for horses lies the concept of photobiomodulation, a process also known as low-level light therapy (LLLT) or red light therapy. It uses non-ionizing forms of light sources including Lasers and LEDs in the visible and near infrared spectrum. LED treatment units are popular due to safety and ease of use. Photobiomodulation involves the application of specific wavelengths of light to biological tissues, triggering cellular responses that promote healing and tissue repair. In the case of LED therapy lights for horses, the wavelengths typically utilized fall within the red and near-infrared (NIR) spectrum, ranging from 600 to 1000 nanometers. It will not work to simply use red LEDs. Our Equine Solarium and Equine Light Therapy Pads use red, infrared, blue, and UV LEDs to create the proper light spectrum.

 

Equine Solarium
Equine LED Light Therapy Pads

 

Cellular Mechanisms at Play

The magic of PBM LED therapy lights unfolds at the cellular level, where light photons are absorbed by mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of the cell. This absorption sets off a cascade of biochemical reactions, including the release of nitric oxide and the activation of signaling pathways. One of the key outcomes of these reactions is the increased production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the cellular energy currency essential for driving various metabolic processes.

Promoting Healing and Recovery

With increased ATP production and enhanced cellular metabolism, our equine LED therapy lights facilitate accelerated healing and tissue regeneration in horses. This proves invaluable in the management of musculoskeletal injuries such as tendonitis, ligament strains, and muscle soreness. By reducing inflammation and promoting blood circulation, LED therapy aids in the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to damaged tissues, while expediting the removal of metabolic waste products.

Addressing Dermatological Concerns

Beyond musculoskeletal ailments, LED therapy lights also offer effective solutions for various dermatological conditions affecting horses. From wounds and cuts to dermatitis and skin infections, the anti-inflammatory and tissue-healing properties of LED therapy contribute to the restoration of skin health and integrity. By stimulating cellular repair mechanisms, these lights facilitate faster wound closure and minimize the risk of complications such as infection.

 

Enhancing Performance and Well-Being

In addition to therapeutic applications, LED therapy lights play a crucial role in optimizing equine performance and overall well-being. Pre-performance conditioning sessions utilizing LED therapy can help prime horses for peak performance by reducing muscle fatigue and enhancing recovery. Similarly, post-performance sessions aid in the swift recovery of tired muscles, ensuring that horses remain in top form for their next endeavor.

Safety and Non-Invasiveness

One of the standout features of LED therapy lights is their safety and non-invasiveness, making them an attractive option for veterinary and animal care professionals. Unlike some conventional treatment modalities that may pose risks or require sedation, LED therapy is gentle and well-tolerated by horses. Whether applied locally to target specific areas or administered as a whole-body treatment, LED therapy offers a risk-free approach to equine wellness.

 

Conclusion

Our Equine LED therapy lights represent a safe and effective tool in the realm of equine care and rehabilitation. By harnessing the therapeutic potential of light, our Equine LED light therapy devices empower veterinary and animal care professionals to address a wide range of conditions and promote the health and well-being of their equine patients. With a solid understanding of the science behind LED therapy, coupled with its proven efficacy and safety, we can ensure a brighter future for our beloved horses.

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The Benefits of Ball-Style Enrichment Products

There’s something fun and exciting about rolling, throwing, and catching a ball.

Maybe you’ve played fetch with a dog or watched a cat bat a ball around. The truth is many animals, both exotic and domestic, obtain entertainment and comfort with ball enrichment devices. Balls facilitate exercise, exploration, interaction with the environment and other animals, and can also be a bond-forming between animals and caregivers. We have ball-style environmental enrichment products for all sizes of animals ranging from mice to hoof stock. Keep in mind when it comes to enrichment, the only limit is your imagination. A tough dog ball works with pigs, horses, and primates. A tiny bird ball can be used with small cats and even rodents like mice and rats.

The Jolly Ball Push-N-Play was designed to be an indestructible dog ball. These balls hold up to fetching, chewing, and rough play. They even float! That makes the Jolly Ball ideal for pigs, zebras, wolves, and primates ranging from apes to macaques. The Texas Biomedical Research Institute recommends the use of balls for primate manipulative enrichment. In particular, hard plastic balls, like the Jolly Ball, are recommended.

Jolly Ball Push-N-Play

Feeder balls, like the Stubbs England Horsey Ball, have proven to be effective enrichment with a variety of animals like zebras, horses, pigs, wolves, coyotes and other foraging animals.

The Horsey Ball is a “dribble feeder.” The idea is to load the ball with appropriate biscuit or kibbled foods. As the device is rolled, nudged, or handled, food is slowly dispensed. This multisensory enrichment using treat-based puzzle-solving has proven effective with swine, primates, and bears. Treat-dispensing balls have even helped with captive walruses!

Stubbs England Horsey Ball

Research continues to show that enrichment is beneficial and even essential for small animal health in zoo, shelter, and research settings. Soft ball products like the Ferret Sport Ball are easy for animals like mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and other small mammals to nudge, carry, roll and nestle. The Atomic Nut Ball is an all-wood toy designed to be chewable. This satisfies the desire of rabbits and other small animals to gnaw and chew, preventing boredom and stereotypical behavior in enclosures and petting displays.

Atomic Nut Ball
Ferret Sport Ball

Don’t forget the birds!

Conures, African grays, cockatoos, cockatiels, and other parrots love to manipulate, taste, rattle, and tug on small balls. Foraging balls provide puzzle-solving activities with a food reward and have been shown to be effective with parrots. The hanging Buffet Ball provides parrots with needed visual, tactile, and taste stimuli.

Buffet Ball

Caring for large animals? They’ll benefit from large balls!

Amber Barnes, writing about horse enrichment for Opensanctuary.org, recommends rolling enrichment devices coupled with food dispensing. Sheep, goats, cattle, large primates, and bears will benefit from products like the huge 30” Planet Ball. It’s big, tough, and easy to roll!

30″ Planet Ball

No matter what type of animals you have in your facility, there are ball-style enrichment devices that improve animal health, quality of life, and research outcomes.

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What’s the deal with KONG?

You probably recognize the KONG brand of dog toys. Did you know KONG has been producing enrichment products for exotic and companion animals since 1976?

KONG is recognized by animal professionals around the world as a manufacturer of exceptional enrichment products for all kinds of animals. Whether in a zoo, home, laboratory, or shelter, these products will help animals feel secure in their environment.

KONG products have been the subject of primate enrichment research studies and found to provide effective enrichment through novel product design. The Texas Biomedical Research Institute recommends KONG products like the Hanging Rubber Forager and Stuff a Ball, in their Primate Enrichment Manual. But the Kong enrichment products go beyond primates.

hanging red rubber foraging device
Hanging KONG Classic

Amber Banes, writing about enrichment for horses for the Open Sanctuary Project, says “Add things they can manipulate with their hooves, like balls, and things they can toss around with their mouths.” KONG manufactures durable balls suitable for horses and other hooved animals. Research indicates that horses and other animals fare better when they are offered grazing variety and challenges. Slow-feeding reduced stereotypical behavior. The KONG Zoo Classic is designed to make it easy to provide this form of enrichment.

kong zoo classic gallery with sku
KONG Zoo Classic (3 Styles)

You’re familiar with KONG dog chew toys but they’re great for all canines. Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (Phoenix, AZ) found that KONG toys stuffed with treats helped dogs stay calm while in quarantine. You can use the same technique for all canids: like wolves, jackals, and foxes. Whether in an enclosure, during transport, while in veterinary care, or when acclimating a new arrival.

Perdue University’s Center for Animal Welfare Science notes that canine boredom is a real issue and can be countered with enrichment products stuffed with treats, tossing a ball during human-canine interaction, and even tug of wars with other canines. It’s also important to periodically change the enrichment toys to keep the animals interested and challenged.

We can’t forget about cats, large or small!

Don’t be fooled by their stoic behavior. Unhappy felines can appear calm but have elevated stress hormones. The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) have published the Environmental Needs Guidelines for cats. Larger cats in zoo and park environments have similar enrichment needs. All have a desire to stalk, pounce, chew and explore interesting scents, tastes, and textures. KONG has created a full range of enrichment products for any sized cat. The Nibble Crtitters Catnipillar is ideal for small cats. The Duratreat Ring is a food puzzle that you fill with interesting scents and tastes and can be enjoyed by larger cats.

There is no limit to where you’ll be able to use KONG products in your animal care facility. Chickens and other birds can become stressed if not provided with an interesting environment. One of the ways to keep birds happy is through the use of enrichment toys like colorful balls and feeding puzzles.

chickens playing with kong genius leo
KONG Genius Leo

No matter what animals your caring for KONG has safe, durable products that will fit right into your enrichment program.

 

YouTube video of KONG manufacturing:

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December Gift Giving

Holiday and end-of-year donor support tips

The holidays are upon us and we’re thinking about gift-giving to friends, family, and pets. The good news is many people like to donate to their local zoo, animal shelter, and rescue facility. It’s also a time of end-of-year giving for tax purposes. Maybe you’re making a wish-list of items your facility needs for the 2023 season. But how to get the message out there to friends and donors? Here are some effective methods for easily getting the word out in time for holiday giving.

Social media

Instagram, Facebook, and other social media outlets are an ideal way to let people know they can give animals a holiday gift. Simply create a holiday post that links to your donation page on your facility’s website.

Support for specific animals

Many people like to support their favorite animal. Some are fans of primates while others love otters or canines. Animal shelters appeal to small animals like dogs and cats. Large animal rescues, depending on their focus, will have horses, pigs, alpacas, and other types of large animals. You can create multiple social media posts, using a variety of animal-specific images and products, to let your donors know how to support their favorite animal.

Get specific with your wish list

One of the most effective ways of communicating your needs is with a wish list. Share it on your website, by email or at the facility. Make a list of products and explain how they enrich the animal’s lives. Show an image of the item and animal that benefits from the enrichment product. Feel free to use our product images, like for this Cylinder.

Polyethylene Cylinder

 

Don’t shy away from a little creative marketing

Slogans like “Giving gifts is for the birds” may seem a little corny, but it resonates with animal-lovers. Tell a story that helps donors identify with the need.

Some of our animals’ favorite toys are ones that roll, wobble and are just fun to pounce on or chase. These items are important for the animal’s physical and mental well-being, but they wear out over time. Help us replenish our animals’ worn-but-well-loved toys!

You can also reinforce your facility’s goals and the importance of enrichment products for animal well-being:

By purchasing a present for Your Facility’s Name, you help our animal keepers/caregivers/veterinarians provide a happy life for the animals.

Be sure to explain that:

These products support research, help refurbish our animals’ habitats, and provide toys that enable animals to express their natural behaviors through play.

In-person events

If your facility has a holiday open house, use that opportunity to share your wish list and animal’s needs. It’s a great time to show worn-out enrichment toys and explain how important new ones are to the animals.

Otto Environmental is dedicated to helping you care for the animals in your care by providing high-quality animal enrichment products and systems. We wish you a happy holidays and look forward to serving you in the new year.