We all know that music can alter our mood. Hearing the latest bouncy pop song can inspire you to work harder during your gym session. Listening to a love song can make you feel more romantic. So it’s not a huge leap to implement music therapy to calm nerves or reduce the pain felt by patients after surgery – but what about music therapy for pets?
Studies have long showcased the effects of therapeutic music on the levels of stress and pain in pets. Music therapy pioneer, Susan Raimond, found that playing a certain arrangement of music on the harp caused something she named the three-minute access. Raimond discovered that within the first three minutes of playing music to a pet, the animal will show a sign of physical release and relaxation, such as ceasing activity and laying down.
Of course, not all of us have the skill to play a special arrangement on the harp for our stressed out pets. Luckily, the findings from this study can be applied to life with our pets every day in simpler ways. For example, soft music with a slow, steady rhythm can help to calm agitated pets, while a more energetic pop song will work to encourage pets to exercise and be active. A very helpful application of music therapy is the use of calm music during bonfire night or Eid, when owners should play calm music to soothe their pets and mask the sound of fireworks.
The application of music therapy has the potential for huge benefits. One veterinary practice has used this knowledge to radically reduce levels of stress in pets during treatment. Cats and dogs who are treated at the Tividale practice of White Cross Vets will be played music specially arranged to relax pets, with the classical piano arrangements played to dogs inducing ‘calmness in 70% of dogs in charity shelters or kennels and 85% of dogs in households.’ Craig Harrison, Clinical Director at White Cross Vets, believes that reducing stress in pets is an incredibly important move to advance the treatment of pets, stating that ‘the calmer a pet is then the less likely they are to become distressed in a new environment and the smoother their recovery process will be.’
The practice goes even further to ensure complete pet relaxation with the use of scent to help create a calming environment during treatment. White Cross Vets make sure that cats and dogs are kept separately to reduce any feelings of nervousness or discomfort, and use pheromone diffusers in each area.
We believe that this kind of research can make a huge difference to pets all over the world. Just like people, pets in distress need environments to be calming to all senses, an easy change that every pet owner can try to implement simply by playing a CD.