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Laser Light Obsession and Injuries in Dogs

example of a couple of laser lights people use to play with their dogs

Quite some time ago I purchased one of those toy laser lights to use for playing with the dogs … and am I ever sorry I did. At first it was great fun, Nissa jumped right in and had a blast! Because we know Riley’s so darn dominant with her, we made him wait and when it was his turn he also had a great time with it. This activity was not only fun for them but fun for us to watch them play with it.

Then we cut them both loose and I’m sorry to say that was the very last time Nissa would have anything to do with it. Riley took over and in dog-speak basically told her “MINE!” and so now she won’t play with it even if Riley is crated or otherwise kept away. This was a very sad situation for me and one that is all to familiar. Riley all to often puts her in her place and anything she’s currently having fun with she stops participating in. I’ve tried very hard to get her to join the fun but no luck. She watches but won’t join in. I feel so bad for her that I sometimes cry. So, because of this alone, we’ve used the laser light very sparingly – perhaps only once a month or so and we continued to try to get Nissa involved but it’s so heartbreaking to watch her watch us having fun and not having any herself. I myself quit using it some time ago, but over my protests the Furkid’s Dad didn’t. Well, I fixed that tonight and tossed the darn thing in the trash.

Light Obsession CAN Happen to YOUR Dog!

The worst of these scenarios when Riley claims ownership rights of something has been the laser light toy. Not only did Riley spoil this game for Nissa (and me because of this) but he now seems to be obsessed not only with the laser light but with any light that throws a reflection on the walls, the ceiling, or anywhere else for that matter. He barks and gets anxious when I pull out a flashlight! The other night I found out that my cell phone light reflecting off the ceiling will set him off. This can quickly turn into a serious obsessive-compulsive behavior that believe me, you don’t want to have to deal with and it can start before you know it with one little fast moving light.

I saw an episode of The Dog Whisperer long ago where a dog had become obsessed with a laser light after one round of play with it. After seeing that show, I swore “No laser lights for our dogs!” Then one day someone must have painted the word STUPID on my forehead or something and I bought one thinking “Ach, it won’t happen to us and think of how much fun they’ll have!” WRONG! You probably can’t even imagine just how what a sorry day it was the day I brought home the laser light. Even though it took a few months for him to become possessed by it, sadly I have to admit that Day 1 with it had to be the beginning of this madness. Don’t ever think for one minute this couldn’t happen to you. I made that mistake and now we have to live with it. I’m going to have to dig up my Cesar cd’s and find that episode and watch it again and see what Cesar did to cure the dog in the show of this because this is crazy! Do I believe everything Cesar says? No, but he does have some good ideas sometimes. If I can’t find my answer there, I’ll do some more digging because this craziness has to stop!

Danger of Damage to the Eyes

Remember, if you do play with laser lights with your dog, be VERY CAREFUL and do NOT point the light in their eyes or anywhere near their face. You may find these toys in the pet department any many other places and if I recall correctly there is a mandatory warning printed on the package. You can seriously damage and even blind both human and animal eyes by pointing one of these toys in their faces.

Potential for Leg and Hip Injuries

Because most people play with the laser light quickly, meaning they move it around fast … the faster you move the light the more your dog may love this game … the hazard is that your dog will make sharp turns to follow the light beam which means you risk some serious damage to their hips, joints and other parts of their legs. For example, they could very easily tear or rupture their Anterior Cruciate Ligament (also known as a torn ACL). This is very painful for the dog and your wallet because it most often requires surgery to repair it. The recovery period is not short and requires your dog to be kept very calm and inactive while it heals. Not an easy task especially if you have a very active dog. Crating them is an easy way to keep them calm but then you risk things like behavior problems from to much crating. Because of the expense you’re going to find a lot of people that will either surrender their dog to a shelter or rescue or have them put down. Do you really want to have to face this decision? I know I don’t! You may want to read How to Care for a Dog with a Torn ACL Injury.

I have no doubt there are people who participate in laser light fun with no serious negative results but because of the dangers laser lights pose and the fact that we’re suffering some serious negative consequences for this kind of fun, Riley’s Place strongly urges you to not play laser light with your dog, your cat or any other pet for that matter. The end results can be so very unpredictable, annoying, painful and expensive that we feel it’s simply not worth the few minutes of joy you and your dogs may have when playing with it.


  1. Chris says:

    I had one of these until a few days ago, we had stopped using it because of the aggressive behavior it caused between my 2 boxers, sadly I didn’t throw it away. Several days ago my child “found” it and was playing with it with the dogs for a few minutes at most (I was in the bathroom). I stopped it immediately and explained why. A few days after that my older (8yrs) female went blind in one eye, the vet has no explanation except for a possible brain lesion but no other symptoms of one (seizures etc) to justify the massive expense to have a CT scan done – if she does have brain cancer the treatment if even possibly would be too expensive – way past any insurance limits etc. I can’t help but think it was that STUPID toy. Other than the sudden blindness she is in great health, even the vet doesn’t think the lesion is likely. They are fun for the dog but they just cause too many issues in behavior and the potential for serious harm is too real!

    • Mom says:

      Hi Chris,

      This is sooooooo sad and I’m sooooooo sorry this has happened! We very much appreciate you sharing your story, you’ve hopefully helped others learn to ditch these darn laser lights.

      Just an FYI, our pet insurance doesn’t have overall limits other than the annual deductible which I selected when I signed up. What would kick you out of receiving any reimbursement is that now they’d call whatever is going on a pre-existing condition because you didn’t have insurance before it happened. When I researched pet insurance I chose Healthy Paws for a number of reasons, the fact they didn’t impose a dollar limit was a big one for me. Have a look at their comparison chart.

      Dogs can do quite well without sight, they normally adjust just fine, thank goodness. We fostered a blind dog not too long ago that by watching her, you’d never know her sight was impaired for the most part. Hopefully, whatever it is isn’t painful for her. We wish you, your family and your furkids the very best and are grateful you stopped by!

  2. Charlie says:

    Hi – Thursday night I played with a laser light with my dog for about 2 minutes. Friday I noticed that he was looking for the light. And today (Saturday) as well. I have been trying to distract him so he forgets but I was hoping that someone may have some helpful hints on how I can erase this from his memory so that he no longer looks for a light that is not there.

    Needless to say, the laser is in the garbage.

    • Mom says:

      Hi Charlie,

      Sounds like you had the same bad luck as we did with the laser light. To this day Riley still gets all hinky when light flashes somewhere. I’m not aware of any way to erase it from your dog’s memory, can anyone erase something from their memory? Not as far as I know. Perhaps in time he will relax about it provided there aren’t any more like experiences for him that remind him of it. About the only thing I can think of is what you’re doing already — redirect his attention to something else and maybe add that once redirected treat him a lot and tell him what a good boy he is. Best of luck! Let us know how it goes, maybe you’ll have success which will give others hope for a “cure!”

  3. Nyx says:

    I had a laser light for my cat for years but now my 4 year old fur baby is completely and disturbingly obsessed after I played with her a few times with it. She is fascinated by anything I pick up hoping it’s the laser light. Anything that clicks or is metal (keys, tweezers, etc), she runs over and starts whining that she wants it and/or obsessingly stares at my every move. Then she lays down and pouts when I don’t have it. I am throwing that dumb laser thing away. Poor cat won’t have fun with it now but I can’t put my dog through this anymore. It was cute at first, now it’s just disturbing.

    For clarification above…. “furbaby” refers to my dog (not my cat). It’s my dog that is acting disturbed by the laser light. The way I wrote it could be confusing. Sorry about that.

    • Mom says:

      Hi Nyx,

      Awww, that’s really a shame. We were disappointed, too, when Riley got obsessed with the laser light and hit happens sooooo fast! It’s such a fun toy for them but man, the consequences can be so disturbing like you said.

      There’s another reason laser lights aren’t the best idea for dogs. Unless you’re really careful dogs have to make sharp turns to catch the light and that can really do a number on their legs, hips, joints … you name it. Sharp turns can cause serious injuries in dogs so in our opinion it’s just not a good play toy for a dog. Cat’s I think are much more nimble and “elastic” than dogs, LOL! so maybe those sharp turns and fast movements aren’t potentially dangerous for cats but I don’t know ‘cuz we can’t have cats at our house so I’ve never researched the effect laser lights can have on kitties.

      Thanks for dropping by, Nyx!

  4. Debby says:

    I have seen the results of laser play? as people have referred to it. It is very dangerous with dog’s and leaves them sadly crazy for life.

  5. Stuffy says:

    After reading about the “obsession” with the laser light toy I feel my dog is possessed. He’ll sit and look at the shelf we have the light sitting on (even though we’ve moved it) waiting for someone to play with it, with him. I feel, after reading other messages that I’ve done something horribly wrong. We never played with it very often….maybe once a month just because of how crazy he acts. We’ve never shone it in his eyes because it is a laser. I need to know if there is ‘safe play’ for the laser toy or should we just get rid of it all together?

    • Mom says:

      Hi Stuffy,

      I’m sorry you’re having this experience and more sorry for your dog. This laser light thing is really hard on some and seems your dog is one of them. I don’t know of any “safe play” with laser lights. When we realized what it did to Riley, the laser light went in the trash (we didn’t let him see me put it in the trash) and we’ll never buy another for any dog. Riley still reacts to *any* glinting light and light reflections since then. To us, the laser light just isn’t worth what it’s done to him.

  6. Rosa Myles says:

    Hi there, i got a new torch that has a laser light and all different colours and flashing lights a few months ago, i stupidly did shine it in my dog eyes now she jumps up the wall at shadows or cellphone reflections. Jumps at the tv.. What have i caused!!! :(

    • Mom says:

      Hello Rosa,

      I’m soooo sorry to hear about this and that you apparently didn’t know that laser lights should *never* be shined into *any* eyes, human or animal. They can burn the eye and your dog may have some real damage and might even be in pain.

      My first concern at this point would be the dog’s eyes – not the resulting nutsy activity. The behavior can be dealt with later, you could work on some positive redirection techniques. Hopefully you’ve tossed the light into the trash by now.

      If this were my dog, I would either call my vet and ask them to give me the contact information for a good doggie eye doctor. I’m not sure if your dog would need to be seen by an optometrist or ophthalmologist or maybe even some other eye specialty doctor. Your vet should be able to tell you what kind of specialist your dog needs.

      I personally would not wait because the damage that may be there might be able to be repaired if it’s treated quickly.

      Good luck! We would love to have you come back and let us know what the vet and/or specialist has to say and how your dog is after being seen and treated if treatment is needed. We really hope your dog’s eyes were not damaged.

      • julie says:

        my dumb neighbor plays with the laser light in his driveway. right beside my yard where my 2 jack russell terriers go mad!! he is so inconsiderate- i am worried he will shine it in my dogs eyes and blind them- any suggestions?

        • Mom says:

          Hi Julie,

          That really sucks, I’d be worried about my dogs as well. Unfortunately, he’s in his own yard so you don’t have a lot of recourse and anything you might want to say to him would hinge a lot on what kind of neighborly relationship you have with him. I know it’s hard to believe but some folks don’t know that some laser lights can damage eyes and your dogs could wind up with a shot in their eyes even if he doesn’t do it intentionally.

          If you’re friendly with him, you might print up a little research off the Internet on laser lights and eye damage and in a friendly way, perhaps something like “Hey, did you know that some laser lights are dangerous to eyes?” kind of thing and with a printed copy in your hands you could prove it to him. If I did this I would also include the danger to the crazy behavior these lights can cause in dogs.

          I look at it this way, the bottom line is that it’s my job to protect my dogs so what I’d do is to bring my own dogs in when the neighbor is doing this. Seems like this may be the easiest solution especially if you don’t have a good relationship with this guy. Your neighbor wouldn’t know that what he’s doing is prompting you to call your dogs in so if your relationship with him isn’t good, there wouldn’t be any confrontation. You’d just be the lady next door who’s calling her dogs inside.

          If on down the road he realizes that every time he’s out there playing with the light you bring your dogs in and he questions you on it, you could just nicely tell him that you’ve done some research into the use of laser lights with dogs and that you feel they’re dangerous to your FurKids and so you prefer to not have them near this activity.

          Hope this helps! Let us know how it goes?

          • julie says:

            thanks for the info- trying to keep the peace- but he is a strange Bird and not well liked with the neighborhood! I will try to keep them away from it as much as i can. I don’t trust the man. thanks again for the reply! :)

      • shannon says:

        My German shepherd Molly, loves her laser light she looks for it as well, mainly wines when she notices we don’t even have it out. Can it cause mental stress with her.

        • Mom says:

          I believe it can. We took Riley’s laser light away permanently quite some time ago, as soon as his behavior told us it had been a mistake to ever have introduced it to him. To this day he’s distressed, anxious, nervous and whiney whenever a light reflects or glints such as taking the cover off a pan on the stove and the metal reflection hits the hood fan or ceiling. Flashlights are not so bad, but there is some distress with them as well.


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