As I drove around yesterday, hunched over my steering wheel and focusing on the road past the torrential rain pouring down my windshield, I felt my blood pressure beginning to rise. By the time countless people had braked erratically in front of me and everyone had suddenly misplaced their indicators, the traffic was crawling along in flooded areas and the heater in my car was no longer keeping the fog from my windows- I was ready to scream!
It was at this point I took a deep breath and turned on my “chill” playlist on Spotify. It took a couple of minutes to kick in, but soon enough Tracy Chapman and John Mayer got me in a calmer mood and I made it safely home to my pyjamas a glass of wine and a movie.
The power of music to affect my emotional state is something i have always valued, and has long been valued in human cultures across history. So I was curious as to whether or not animals have similar responses to music. Unsurprisingly after a lot of Googling, the answer is yes- though their preferences may not be the Justin Bieber's or Metallica's of the world.
Certain studies in dogs and cats found that we hear up to 20,000 Hz, while dogs hear up to 45,000 Hz, and cats up to 64,000 Hz.
Sound therapy is quickly becoming one of the most common drug-free trends to soothe the nerves of anxious pets. In particular as i found in my research, the tones of harp music have had remarkable results.
Harp music produces certain overtones that some humans cannot even hear, yet a dog's or cat’s ear can detect. These tones sink in and work at a cellular level, producing an anxiety-reducing effect. This, in turn, reduces blood pressure, improves digestion, releases endorphins, lessens separation anxiety, boosts the immune system, and benefits both pets and people in a host of other ways. Additionally, the soothing tones of harp music reach out to the heart and lungs, which slows the functions of both until the heartbeat and breathing measures match the soft tempo of the music.
Cats, and dogs especially, can benefit even more from music if they associate these sounds with positive experiences such as a gentle massage or cuddling time with their owner.
A great way to introduce this type of therapy to your pet is to play a CD while at home and the mood is relaxed; this will help him/her begin to connect the music with the comfort of their beloved human. Then, when you leave or any time anxiety levels increase, the music will likely trigger that feeling of warmth and well-being.
Some shelters and rescues have started using the form of therapy in the high stress and anxiety filled environments they work in. Some even believe it even helps with adoptions! With the dogs in calm and comfortable states they become more desirable to the families- who also feel a sense of relaxation. Like we need another excuse to adopt that adorable puppy!
Tags: Pet, Pet and Vet, Animal Health, Dog, Cattery, Pet care, Cat, Kennel, Therapy, Relaxation