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Are Grow Lights Safe for Pets

Growing plants indoors can be a fun experience, and it can be especially effective if you live in an extremely hot or cold climate. However, you may have noticed that your lights came with a label warning you of potential side effects, and you may wonder whether the side effects of grow lights are harmful to your pets?

Grow lights are not safe for pets because the direct rays from these lights can cause permanent damage to their retinas and potentially cause cancer. They have even been known to cause reproductive problems in extreme cases. However, you can still use grow lights safely in your home by keeping them away from your pets.

In the rest of this article, we will go over a couple of different types of grow lights and their effects on your pets, how you can protect your furry friends from injury, and a few frequently asked questions regarding pets and grow lights.

Photo of two grow lights hanging in a grow tent.
Photo of two grow lights turned on hanging from the top of a grow tent. Photo by Spicy Trio

Are LED Based Grow Lights Safe for Pets?

The most popular type of grow lights are LEDs. LEDs are much lower maintenance and tend to use less power while aiding your plant’s growth. However, this also means that they are usually less warm, which can be a drawback in cold weather.

Either way, pets still seem to be drawn to LED grow lights. Are these types of grow lights safe to have around your pets?

Although LED grow lights are not very safe for pets, they are milder compared to other bulb types. Still, you should do your best to keep your pets separated from your grow lights and not leave them running all day. Prolonged exposure can lead to adverse side effects.

Adverse side effects that can occur from prolonged LED grow light exposure include:

  • Eye damage
  • Cancer
  • Issues with reproduction (only in extreme cases)
  • Illness
  • Burns

As you can see, there are quite a few drawbacks to leaving your pet unattended with an LED grow light. Grow lights generally emit UV rays to promote plant growth, and these are the same type of rays as the sun.

If we were to be exposed to concentrated rays from the sun, we would also become sick and be at risk of developing conditions like cancer. This is why there is a difference between LED light bulbs you find in your home and LED grow lights. The light itself isn’t what causes adverse effects; it’s the UV rays the bulb emits.

If your pet is burned by a grow light it is most likely due to heat and prolonged exposure to the light. This form of injury is fairly unlikely, but it has been known to happen with strong grow lights.

However, it’s important to note that not all LED grow light bulbs are created equal. Some will be more powerful than others, and you should always read the warning label before handling them.

Also, two major ingredients in LED lights are lead and mercury. Both can be extremely harmful if you are exposed to them for long periods of time.

Are HPS Grow Lights Safe for Pets?

Another popular form of grow lights are the HPS (High-Pressure Sodium) lights. This light has a cheaper initial investment and tends to run much warmer. However, LED grow lights are still preferred by many. So how do HPS grow lights compare when it comes to pet safety?

HPS grow lights are not safe for pets. HPS lights are very powerful and can concentrate more heat than LEDs, harming your pet’s eyes, making them sick, and even burning them. It’s best to keep your HPS grow lights in a room that you can keep your pets out of.

HPS lights also require better ventilation systems due to the amount of heat they produce. Their UV potency can feel much more concentrated. However, they can be much more cost-effective to purchase for new growers.

Just like LEDs, the UV rays produced by HPS grow lights are best kept away from your pets. Pets such as cats are prone to sunning themselves in warm places, and if left unattended, the situation could potentially turn dangerous. Not to mention that dogs could easily chew cords and get electrocuted. 

How to Protect Your Pets from Grow Lights

Ultimately, no matter which type of grow light you opt to use in your home, there is a potential risk for your pets. However, there are a few things you can do to protect your pets from harm and still grow beautifully healthy plants.

Here’s how to keep your pets safe from the effects of grow lights:

  1. Keep your pates away from grow lights. If you have the space, you should keep your grow lights in a room that can be shut off from the rest of the home. This will ensure that your pets aren’t messing with the lights or hanging out beneath them when you are busy.
  2. Keep a close eye on your pets. If you can’t separate your pets from your grow lights, it’s a good idea to watch what they’re doing and discourage them from hanging near the lights.
  3. Discourage your pet’s interest in the grow lights. If you notice your pet frequently going to the lights, try removing your pet from the space or misting them with water to encourage them to hang out elsewhere.
  4. Place your grow lights low to the ground. Hanging the lights as close to the ground as possible ensures that the harmful rays aren’t beating directly down onto your pet’s head should they enter the room.
  5. Don’t allow your pets to lounge outside with the grow light. The light can still emit harmful rays through doors, so it’s best to keep them completely away from the growing space.
  6. Never leave grow lights on indefinitely. It’s best to only use grow lights 6-8 hours per day to avoid adverse effects on you or your pets. Typically, the lights only have to run as long as the plants you are growing need.
  7. Don’t allow your pets to accompany you into your growing room. Even minor exposure to these harsh lights isn’t a great idea and can cause lasting damage. It’s better to keep all animals away from grow lights if possible.
  8. Offer alternative sunny spots by opening your blinds. Giving your pets a nice warm place to nap will make them far less likely to try and snuggle up under your grow lights.
  9. Keep grow light cords out of reach. Pets can quickly become tangled in cords and hurt themselves. It’s a good idea to place grow light cords in a manner your pets can’t reach them or chew on them.
  10. Place grow lights in a low-traffic area. If you don’t have a separate room for your grow lights, it’s best to place them somewhere your pets will walk through infrequently. The more out of your pet’s general path, the better.

Industrial grow lights will be much harsher than the little ones you can purchase online for growing small herb gardens. However, it’s still important to do your best to keep your pets separated from these lights. If grow lights can be harmful to humans, they can certainly hurt your pets if you aren’t careful.

Three Common Questions About Grow Lights and Pets

Do LED Grow Lights Affect Animals?

LED grow lights can cause permanent damage to pets’ eyes if they stare at them. Grow LEDs are meant to mimic the sun’s rays and are therefore very powerful, which is why negative effects such as cancer, eye damage, and other illnesses can occur from prolonged exposure.

Can LED Grow Lights Hurt Cats’ Eyes?

LED grow lights can hurt cats’ eyes. Like with any animal, cats’ eyes are sensitive to the sun’s rays. Not only can grow lights harm cats’ eyes, but they can also cause major health problems if your cat frequently suns beneath one. It’s best to keep your cats separated from the lights.

That said, it would be very strange for a cat to look directly at any source of light for a long while.

Can LED Grow Lights Hurt Dogs’ Eyes?

LED grow lights can hurt dogs’ eyes. Though not quite as sensitive as cats’ eyes, dogs can still receive damage to their eyes from prolonged exposure to LED grow lights. Dogs may also try to sun themselves under the lights, and this can lead to future health problems if left unchecked. 

Closing Thoughts

Ultimately, grow lights aren’t safe for your pets. Not only can these lights be harmful to your pet’s eyes, but they can also harm their overall health. LED and HPS lights can cause harmful effects like:

  • Eye damage
  • Cancer
  • Reproductive issues
  • Illness
  • Burns

It’s essential that you understand that it’s not the lights themselves that can affect pets, but the UV rays they emit. Some grow lights may be milder than others, but it’s best to keep your pets safe and separate from grow lights when possible.