Are Laser Pointers Bad for my Pet?

Laser pointers offer a fun way of interacting with our pets; however, take note: they are NOT RECOMMENDED FOR DOGS! Having dogs chase the light from laser pointers or flashlights can cause them to become obsessed with lights or shadows. There are extreme cases where dogs will bark consistently at overhead lights in a room until the lights are shut off. Some dogs are impossible to take on a walk, because of their obsession with moving shadows. While these cases are rare, it is certainly not worth the risk.

Cats are a different story, and they do not seem to develop the neurosis that dogs do. Indoor cats are also more difficult to exercise, so I do encourage people to use laser pointers to increase activity level and offer enrichment. Some people feel that laser pointers are frustrating to their pet, because they never get to “catch” what they are chasing. For cats, you can solve this by leading the laser pointer light to a toy on the ground, so that the cat gets to actually pounce on something and feel rewarded for its efforts.

-Ryan Roberts, DVM