Category Archives: laser pointer games

Why Laser Pointers Can be Frustrating for Pets

By Linda Cole

I’ve never gotten into the laser pointers people use to entertain their pets. I don’t really know why, because I can’t help but smile when I see a dog or cat chasing that little light. It’s a good way to get them up on their feet for some playtime and exercise. However, chasing that red dot can be frustrating for our furry friends, and there is a potential hazard of eye injury.

In reality, the eyesight of dogs and cats isn’t as sharp as ours when it comes to seeing distant things clearly. Dog and cat eyes are made to see best in dim light, and being able to see brilliant colors and details like we see isn’t necessary when hunting prey. Compared to our field of vision, which is looking straight ahead, dog can see 240 degrees, cats see at 200 degrees, and we come in last with a field of vision of 180 degrees. The binocular vision (where the field of vision of both eyes intersect) of humans and cats is 140 degrees compared to dogs with 30 to 60 degrees. Dogs and cats depend on movement, especially rapid movement, to see things up close. Both dogs and cats have a visual streak, which is a high density line made up of vision cells across the retina. This gives them extremely good peripheral vision for seeing motion, and dogs can see better out of the corner of their eyes than cats can.

Motion is what activates a dog or cat’s prey drive. That’s why a mouse, rabbit or small prey will freeze in place – to make it harder to be seen. Laser pointers can quickly get a pet’s attention. Not because of the little red dot, though. It’s the motion of the dot that clicks on a pet’s prey drive and catches their interest, and there’s no way they can ignore the moving light. The problem with that erratic light is that it’s impossible for a dog or cat to actually catch it, and that makes it frustrating for them. Some dogs can develop behavior problems if they become obsessed with trying to catch that darn light. Cats aren’t as likely to become obsessed because they have a tendency to lose interest faster than dogs.
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Laser Pointer Games that are Safe for Dogs

By Tamara McRill

I’ll admit it: watching a dog happily chase a pinpoint of light can be hilarious. But it turns out laser pointer games have a dark side that can actually harm a dog’s mental wellbeing. It was a heart-stopping moment when I discovered this, having enjoyed just such a romping good time visiting a Pitbull pup we had rescued at his new home.

I was quick to let his new owner know the ramifications of his puppy’s favorite game and suggest some better ways to play with the laser pointer, if he wasn’t willing to completely stop using it as a toy.

Haywire Prey Instincts

The problem with letting a dog chase after a laser pointer beam is that it triggers their prey drive – what makes them hunt and chase after small things that move – without the satisfaction of ever catching the red dot. This may sound like a small thing, but it can actually cause an obsession in dogs to chase light. As in, it actually makes them a bit crazy. Many dogs will begin pouncing on any beam of light they see, just dying to finally catch it.

Safety Precautions

Before suggesting any laser pointer games to play that will satisfy your pet’s need to be a predator, I would like to emphasize that not playing with a laser pointer at all is really the safest option.

Also keep the beam out of their eyes, as it can cause blindness in dogs just as it does humans. Since a lot of dogs will bite at and pounce on the red dot, keep it off of other pets and people. Oh, and never point the beam at anything you don’t want to see broken.

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