Music – Healing Benefits for our Pets

The healing quality of music for people is well known and documented. Music for animals is an exciting and relatively new field of study. One interesting area is research about the type of music animals prefer. What type of music do pets really like? Charles Snowdon, an animal psychologist, discovered that animals enjoy “species-specific music” or tunes designed using the pitches, tones and tempos that are familiar to their particular species. We sometimes assume that our pets enjoy our musical preferences. Our favorite music could be having an opposite effect on our pets.

A personal childhood experience I had with pets and music involved my two parakeets named Elvis and Pat Boone. Yes, it was in the late 50’s. Pat swayed to the soft music of Pat Boone. His favorite was Love Letters in the Sand. Elvis rocked to all music by Elvis. My friends were amazed at their performances.

Animals enjoy some the same benefits of music that we do:

  • Relieves Stress – play soothing music before stressful situations such as vet visits or grooming visits.
  • Eases the Stress of Separation Anxiety – it has a calming influence when you’re not able to be with them.
  • Provides Physical Benefits – the right music slows their heart rate, increases endorphin levels which creates relaxation and good feelings.
  • Strengthens Immunity – music boosts the immune system which promotes health and wellness and helps fight disease.

Music is being used in many shelters to create a positive “soundscape” to soothe the animals. Dr. Patricia McConnell, canine behavior expert, shared a few tips in a webinar, “Canine Behavior and Acoustics. These might be helpful to us as we consider adding music to our pet’s life. It is best to alternate periods of quiet with music. The choice of music is important. Classical music seems to work best with dogs. Be careful about using music to mask other sounds. The result can be extremely jarring and stressful. Your dog could associate the music with the jarring sounds and create more stress.

Okay – now you might be asking yourself “how much stress is my pet experiencing”? An interesting theory is that we possibly could be the primary cause of their stress. We are aware of the role pets play in stress relief for people. We could be transferring our tension to our pets. The human-animal bond is so strong and our pets are so attuned to our feelings that they become stressed out because of us.

Be aware of the effect of certain types of music on your pet. See if you can determine the type of music your pet prefers. Who knows – they may even have a preference for a certain singer and perhaps even a certain song. I know Pat & Elvis certainly had very specific likes!

Be aware of your own stress levels and the effect you might be having on your pet. You might need the benefits of music to promote an environment of peace and serenity for you and your pet.

Sharing your love of music with your pet is beneficial for both of you. Letting your pet share their musical preferences with you might also be a fascinating and enjoyable experience!